Cameron Alves grew-up hearing the stories that make his family Rhode Island high school football royalty.
There’s the story of how for nearly a half century his great uncle held the record for most points scored by a player in a single Rhode Island high school football season.
People have told him his late grandfather was a former Rhode Island high school football All-Stater before going-on to coach his high school alma mater’s tradition-rich football program to several Super Bowl titles.
He knows his father is a former All-State football player as well as Rhode Island’s top male senior high school student/athlete in 1983 who later coached Shea High to four consecutive Super Bowl titles in the early 1990s.
Now Cam Alves, a Cranston West senior, wants to add to his family’s Rhode Island football legacy.
“I know all the stories. People have told me the stories and I talk to my uncle Bud all the time,” Alves offered about his great uncle Buddy Alves. The 210 points Buddy Alves scored in 10 games during his junior season at West Warwick High in 1952 was the state record for most points scored in a single season for nearly 50 years.
“I knew playing high school football in Rhode Island with my last name was going to be special,” said Cam Alves. “It’s something I have looked forward to my whole life. I always felt I was going to be held to a higher standard and I have had a great experience here at West.”
Last season Alves was a player with promise. This season he is the “Player to Watch” in Rhode Island high school football.
He’s a 5-10, 190-pound quarterback and free safety. He earned Providence Journal first-team All-State honors last year after a season in which he led Cranston West to a Division I Super Bowl berth with his sensational all-around play. As the Falcons starting quarterback, he passed for 1,209 yards and 17 touchdowns while also running for 1,187 yards and 14 touchdowns. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry on 201 carries. On defense he made 98 tackles and picked off three pass interceptions, including two that he returned for touchdowns.
He’s the proverbial natural athlete. In addition to being a football quarterback he is one of the state top javelin throwers during outdoor track season and a point guard for the Cranston West varsity basketball.
His football game, however, is about more than simply athletic talent. He has that unique ability to read holes and make people miss when he’s running with the ball. He’s a student of the game -a teenager who not only knows where everybody is on the field, but understands why they are where they are.
“I’m a concept guy. I’m someone who understands the game,” said Alves.
That’s not surprising. After all he started studying Football 101 before he was in kindergarten.
His father is Steve Alves, the former West Warwick High All-State and Providence Journal Honor Roll Boy who went on to play collegiate football at Union College then came back to Rhode Island for a career in education and football coaching.
“My father was coaching with my uncle Jim at Exeter-West Greenwich High when I was a little kid so I grew-up on the sidelines,” said Cam.
He started his football playing career when he was only four years old, in a Pop Warner touch league. He played all the popular youth sports growing up – basketball and baseball as well as football. But there always was a special passion for football.
“It was never something I did because of my family,” Alves said of his love for football. “It was something I naturally gravitated toward, something that I fell in love with early and still love it today.”
“There are a group of things I love about football. I don’t think any other sport is like football. It’s about overcoming adversity, but you can’t do it yourself. You can run the football, but if your line doesn’t block you are not going anywhere. It’s a unit game. You do it as a unit, but it’s also a game where you can have your presence as an individual.”
There wasn’t any family master plan that he would be a quarterback. In fact, when he was younger, he thought he probably would be a running back and receiver. Even today those are the positions he expects to play in college. But when you grow-up on the sidelines your football IQ is more advanced than most kids your age.
“I wasn’t going to be a quarterback right away,” said Alves. “But growing-up with my Dad on the sidelines I had a deeper understanding of the game than other kids my age. So, I started playing quarterback simply because I knew what was going-on and I grew into it.”
Now he is Mr. Excitement – a threat to put points on the scoreboard every time he touches the ball and the quarterback touches the ball every play.
The dream has always included eventually playing college football and as an outstanding student it’s not surprising he has had contact with a few Ivy League schools as well as Holy Cross, URI and Bryant.
But that’s for the future. Right now, he wants to help make this a special season for his high school teammates, especially his senior classmates.
“This is a special group of seniors,” said Alves. “We have played together since the fifth grade, through youth football and now through high school. Nobody left public school to go to a private school and that’s unique these days.”
“Last year we went to the Division I Super Bowl. This year we want to go to the big game, the state Championship Super Bowl,” Alves offered about the Falcons quest to become the first public school team in 10 years to win the state’s major high school gridiron title.
Maybe, another chapter in the Alves football legacy.
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