Williams has breakout year

Published 10:53 am Friday, December 5, 2014

Rushing for 2,064 yards and 22 touchdowns, Cody Williams is Western Tidewater’s Player of the Year. -- Cain Madden | Tidewater News

Rushing for 2,064 yards and 22 touchdowns, Cody Williams is Western Tidewater’s Player of the Year. — Cain Madden | Tidewater News

When thinking about how he rushed for more than 2,000 yards and 22 touchdowns during his senior campaign, Southampton High School’s Coby Williams was quick to credit coaching and his blockers.

“Jeff Allen, the center — he was always looking forward to blocking for me, and the whole line just knew the scheme well,” Williams said. “We always felt like we could go for a big play anytime I got the ball. Then Delonta Boone, the full back, he was always like, ‘Bro, I got you, just follow me.’

“No one was selfish, and no one was talking trash to each other, we were just playing hard throughout the entire game.”

This was enough to earn Williams The Tidewater News’ Western Tidewater Player of the Year. The funny thing about it, SHS Head Coach Willie Gillus said, is that if things had worked out right, Williams would have run for way more than 2,064 yards on his 197 carries. Even though Williams averaged a first down per carry, Gillus said it wasn’t until week four against Sussex Central when he was able to really kick it into gear.

There were two parts to that, first, they were able to take him off of the defensive unit; and two, they switched to running the I-formation.

“Coby was one of our best players on defense,” Gillus said of Williams, who played safety during the early part of the year and was one of the leaders in tackling. But some of our younger guys started to develop, and we were able to give him a break while the defense was on the field.

“We switched to the I-formation against Sussex, and that put him into the situation where he could do a lot more. Not only as a running back, but he was our best receiver out of the slot.”

In that game, Williams would have ran for more than 100 yards had a 50-yard touchdown not been called back. In the next game, Williams ran for 154 yards against Brunswick, and then, against the Greensville Eagles, he put up his first of many 200-yard games, gaining 231 yards in Southampton’s first win of the season.

It was one of Williams’ favorite moments of the season, but it wasn’t his favorite. That would be the Franklin game, where he put up 214 yards and had 3 touchdowns.

“That was a great accomplishment for this team,” Williams said. “We had worked real hard to try and get into the playoffs, and that win went a long way to changing our season and getting us there.”

He also enjoyed several other moments.

“Beating Greensville and Park View during their homecoming games, that was big. We’d been beat at homecoming a lot since I’ve been here, so that felt great,” Williams said. “And just the feel of the team this year — everyone wanted to win.”

The team has done a lot to turn it around, and he feels like they are going to step it up even more next year.

“Everything changed in week 5,” he said. “Everyone wanted to practice, everyone wanted to win and everyone wanted to leave everything on the field.”

Williams started playing football for the Boykins Bulldogs when he was in the third grade. He started out as a defensive back, but eventually the coach tried him on the offensive side of the ball at quarterback. Then later, he switched to slot receiver and running back.

The Branchville native broke out during his last year there, scoring 18 times, and was excited to play JV and eventually varsity, starting his 10th grade year at SHS.

In his sophomore year, he played quarterback, filling in for two that were hurt above him. And last year, he played running back, but he ended up hurt.

“I just love football,” Williams said about why he kept playing. “It teaches you so many life skills and helps you develop to become a man.

“It’s hard to explain, I’ve just got a lot of love for it.”

Plus, he said, he feels like football can take him somewhere, as he’s currently getting looks from coaches from NCAA Division I FCS and Division II schools.

“I feel like Coby is a Division I player,” Gillus said. “But he may end up choosing a Division II school because of the fit, both on the field and off the field.”

Gillus said there is a lot to love about Williams as a runner.

“Two of the biggest things are his determination and his vision,” the coach said. “His vision is what really makes the difference. He sees things that other running backs just don’t see, and then is able to make the cut to get there.”

Wherever he goes, Williams said he wanted to major in education and one day become a teacher.

“Yeah, I hear people say that there’s no money in it, but I kind of just want to help out kids in bad situations before it is too late,” Williams said. “It kind of hit me last year, just being around the school. I feel like some of the teachers are just there to teach us SOLs and getting out of the building.”

He also thought there were not enough male teachers to help reach young men.

“I want to be the person to help kids out who need it, do good things and be somebody,” he said.

As far as breaking out this year, Williams said he couldn’t forget to thank Coach Cyrus Lawrence and Coach Gillus. He also credits his running back coach Donielle Babb for a lot of the mechanics of his game.

“Coach Babb was key,” he said. “He taught us how to hold the ball better, and would give tips all the time that really helped.”

Being only about 160 pounds, Williams thought his determination might have been the biggest factor in his success, beyond the blocking.

“My thought was to not let one man bring me down,” Williams said. “I was always thinking that I was better than the man trying to bring me down. I was very confident.”