The last time Hylton sophomore Donovan Williams started a game at quarterback before Friday against Freedom-Woodbridge, his opponent’s mascot was also a bird and one of its principal colors was also gold, just like the Eagles.
“The game speed of the [Washington Catholic Athletic Conference] is a little bit faster, which worked to my benefit,” Williams said. “Compared to the WCAC, it was just a lot easier when we played Freedom.”
Williams, filling in for injured starter Travon McMillian, completed six of 11 passes for 90 yards and two touchdowns and added 82 yards and three scores on the ground as the No. 8 Bulldogs (7-1, 7-1 Cardinal) routed Freedom-Woodbridge, 34-0.
“The thing that impressed me most was that he threw a couple long balls that he put in the right place,” Hylton Coach Tony Lilly said of Williams. “He allowed his receivers to be playmakers on those balls, and I think that that was good.”
Early in the week, Lilly and Bulldogs offensive coordinator Jason Edwards tossed around the idea of simplifying the game plan for Williams, limiting the sophomore to a smaller package of plays. But after deliberating, the coaches kept the playbook open.
“We discussed it and said, ‘let’s let him run our package,’” Lilly said. “‘Let’s not change what we do.’ He’s capable of running what we do and he did a good job running our package.”
Williams’s comfort inside Hylton’s spread scheme can be attributed to his role as a wide receiver. The transfer has eight catches for 147 yards this season.
“I didn’t have to look at my wrist coach as much because I knew the majority of the routes,” Williams said.
Besides understanding the route tree, Williams’s background as a pass catcher also enables him to anticipate where to put the ball and with what loft.
“It helps, because at quarterback you can see things from a receiver’s point of view, like what type of deep ball a receiver might like or where you need to place it,” he said. “I was able to put to ball in a place where the receivers were most comfortable and could adjust to it.”
Despite being sidelined with a hamstring injury, McMillian did his best to prepare Williams for his opportunity on Friday. That’s nothing new. The senior Virginia Tech recruit has groomed his heir-apparent all season.
“That’s a process that’s gone on all year,” Lilly said. “Travon has shared things with Donovan throughout the [season]. Travon really wanted Donovan to have this experience to see the game through his own eyes.”
The senior’s advice was concise.
“[Travon] told me to go out there and do my thing,” Williams said. “He said ‘use the talent that you were given and go out there and do what you need to do. Stay confident and get it done.’”
When asked about McMillian’s status for Friday’s upcoming game at Potomac (Va.), Lilly chuckled.
“I’d certainly like to see him behind the center on Friday,” he said. “If I needed to play Travon last Friday I could have, but it was also a situation where I wasn’t going to do that unless it was an absolute emergency.
“I fully expect him to be available and be ready to play on Friday.”