Williams, a senior linebacker at Mountain Brook, is determined to help bring Spartan football back to where he thinks it belongs.
Last season, Mountain Brook posted a 4-6 record, the school’s weakest worksheet in years, and Williams has decided that one bad season is far too many.
“A year ago, we had some negative things happen early on, and it was a snowball effect after that,” said Williams, when contacted between practice sessions last week. “Some of our people weren’t as motivated as they should have been.
“This year, it’s up to the senior class to provide better leadership. There have been a lot of positives in practice so far this summer, and we want that to continue.”
Despite the Spartans’ losing record, Williams turned heads last season with his aggressive play at the middle linebacker spot, and Mountain Brook coach Chris Yeager is expecting much the same this fall.
“Miller is a real key for our defense,” Yeager said. “He’s strong with good quickness in getting to the ball carrier. Miller also brings great leadership skills to the table.”
In Mountain Brook’s defense scheme, Williams will line up with the defensive front when facing obvious passing situations.
“I’ll be playing in the defensive line to rush the passer from down the middle,” he explained.
Williams’ versatility comes into play on the other side of the ball as well. Late last season, he was utilized as a fullback in short yardage situations. Although his primary assignment was to block, Williams scored a touchdown from the fullback spot in the Spartans’ homecoming rout of Carver.
“The touchdown was a lot of fun. I hadn’t scored one since junior high,” he recalled. “We’re planning to do the same thing this year, with me lining up at fullback in situations where we need five yards or less. I’ll probably be splitting the running and blocking about half and half.”
Williams has set high personal goals for himself in 2010, and they don’t necessarily include touchdowns.
“I’d like to make at least 150 tackles and a lot of sacks, but mainly I just want to be a leader on the team,” he said. “Anything I can do to help the team win, I want to do it.”
The 6-0, 225-pounder has been helping Mountain Brook teams win for a long time, as Williams has been a star since his junior high days. But when reaching the Spartan varsity as a sophomore, he learned about the pecking order of high school football.
“The sophomores are far down the line when it comes to choosing jersey numbers,” he said. “I wore number 64 that year but didn’t like it too much.
“So the next year, I asked for 42, but that was Major Ogilvie’s number, and it’s been retired. So I got number 45.”
Personal benchmarks are important to Williams, but team objectives hold a much higher priority.
“Too many times we didn’t play Mountain Brook-style football last year,” he said. “We want to get our program’s reputation back to where it used to be. Our goal is to go to the playoffs and advance as far as possible.
“As much as we struggled last year, we still almost made it to the post-season. That should be encouraging as we go into the new season with a better attitude.”
Williams is expecting a better Spartan defense in 2010, despite the fact that all-state defensive lineman Wilson Love has moved on to the University of Alabama.
“We’ve got two guys – Harrison Wright and Clay Yeager – that should do fine in place of Wilson. If we all play together, we should be much better than last year.”
The Spartans may need to gel quickly, because their schedule is brutal. After opening Aug. 27 against improving Shades Valley, Mountain Brook faces Class 6A Region 6 rivals Vestavia Hills, Pelham and Homewood in succession – with the first two on the road.
“Sure, it’s a tough schedule, but that’s the kind we always play,” Williams said. “One thing about our schedule is that it keeps us sharp. We can’t ever afford to take it easy any week.
“Another good thing about our schedule is that it gets us ready if we make the playoffs. After playing in our region, we are used to facing tough competition.”
Williams is being recruited by numerous schools, but his favorite now is the United States Air Force Academy.
“I visited the Academy in June and it’s a fantastic place,” he said. “It would be a great place to go to school.”
His future may be bright, but for Williams and the other Mountain Brook seniors, the future is now.
“The time has gone by so quickly – sometimes I can’t believe I’m really a senior,” Williams said. “We want to make our senior season one that we won’t forget.”
And the best way to do that is to bring the Spartans back to glory.
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