Wilson freshman quarterback Steve Williams received snaps on just one series last week against the vicious defense of H.D. Woodson. Barely a teenager, the 5-foot-10, 135-pound 13-year-old looked out of place amongst the other boys, but that never entered his mind. He took play calls in from the sidelines. He ran around trying to make a play. He completed two passes with his unusually strong left arm. Maybe most significantly, he took his biggest shot of the year from a blitzing Woodson defender, and got up.
Before long, Wilson’s entrenched starter, Scott Beumel, was back on the field against Woodson, which won 35-18. But by design, the Wilson coaching staff is already preparing for the future each week this fall, folding Williams into the game plan – both because he’s capable of playing right now, and also because “he’s the heir apparent,” said Wilson Coach Mark Martin. Martin has coached at the Northwest school since 1999, and never has he had such a young quarterback ready to lead an offense, he said.
“He has it. We wanted him to play JV, but he was the number two quarterback,” Martin said. “The kid works hard. He works really hard. He’s like a student of the game. He hasn’t played much this year, but he’s been learning a lot.”
Moving up from Pop Warner, where he played for the Watkins Hornets club on Capitol Hill, to high school football has been physically demanding on Williams’ body, he said. This is also the first time he’s ever been handed a playbook to study, and he’s had to absorb a complex, spread offensive scheme. The baby-faced Williams isn’t done growing, said Martin, and will only get stronger in the weight room; as for the playbook, he’s already identified his favorite play. It’s called “Daytona,” with two of the receivers in the seam clearing out the flat for an outside receiver.
He’s gotten to run that play, and others, sparingly on the field. He had his best game of the season in the opener against Perry Street Prep, when he threw his first career touchdown pass on a fade. But even though he’s completed 8-of-15 attempts for 151 yards this season, with no interceptions, he said he knew he could hang at the varsity level after a scrimmage against Good Counsel last summer.”I was kind of nervous. They were real big,” Williams said. “I just [took] deep breaths.”
Williams made one memorable throw across the middle, he said, and ended up leading his team on a lengthy drive.
There are no moral victories at a place like Wilson, which is in the hunt for a DCIAA title again this season, but for a 13-year-old, it was a big day. He’s only got a few more games to learn behind Beumel until the job is his.
“It’s been real important. I kind of learn from him, being his backup. He’s teaching me along the way,” Williams said, “getting me ready for next year.”