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November 7, 2013

Stillwater's Williams hopes to go out with one final bang

STILLWATER, Okla. — King Williams may not be the biggest player on the Stillwater High School football team. He may not be the most athletic, either.

But one thing is certain: If it weren’t for the do-it-all-and-then-some senior, there would be no talk of the playoffs heading into Friday night’s game against Owasso.

“He’s done a little bit of everything,” Stillwater coach Tucker Barnard said. “The touchdown before halftime against Enid last Friday may have been the difference that has given us this opportunity to get into the playoffs. If we don’t win that game by 15, we’re not sitting here talking about points and scenarios for us to get in the playoffs this week.”

All his life, Williams has been told he’s too small to have much of an impact on the football field. But try telling that to the Pioneers, who have used his three consecutive weeks with runs of 50 yards or more to turn things around.

“It’s more of a motivation boost just knowing that I might be one of the littlest ones on the field, but I might be making some of the biggest plays out there,” Williams said. “That’s really what I’ve been growing up to all my life, football coaches telling me that dynamite comes in small packages.”

While a lot of coaches may use dynamite to refer to the 5-foot-7 senior, Barnard has another word — electric.

“He makes us one play away,” Barnard said. “We’re one play away when he’s on the field. He’s got a knack for it. He’s got a football intelligence that allows him to be around the ball and sometimes makes him look lucky.”

Even Williams admits that he sometimes gets lucky on plays, but in truth luck has hardly anything to do with it. It’s more about practice and preparation.

“You just have to give it everything you’ve got,” Williams said. “In practice on and off the field, you have to do whatever you can to make yourself better on the field.”

“He always been that kind of guy, but he’s kind of done it in the background,” Barnard said. “Now, he’s finally taking a leadership role and starting to hold his teammates accountable. He’s playing and practicing even harder himself than what he’s ever done, and he’s just becoming the senior leader we’re looking for.”

For Williams, there’s more to being a leader than making plays. It’s also owning up to mistakes — something Williams struggled with earlier in the season.

Against Midwest City, Williams saw a punt slip through his hands and bounce right into an opponent’s waiting arms, resulting in heartbreak and leaving Williams in tears after the game.

“He’s invested at a high level,” Barnard said. “... If you’ve invested a lot, you’re going to pay a lot of attention to it and it’s going to hurt when it doesn’t go well.”

That heartbreak may have cost Stillwater an early win, but Williams has turned that loss into a motivational tool. It seems like each week he’s out to prove everybody wrong and show that the one case of fumbleitis was a fluke.

“When you have a player that puts himself in a situation to make so many big plays, we’re going to put him in situations when we get the opportunity,” Barnard said. “You’re not always going to be successful. With a great risk at making a great play, sometimes you’re going to fail. I think the failure can certainly fuel you and build a fire inside to do better next time, and I think that goes on with King — he internalizes it.”

No doubt, things haven’t gone as expected for Williams or any of the Pioneers this season. Injuries and early-season mistakes have derailed the Pioneers and all but eliminated Stillwater from the playoffs.

But with one game left to make up for it, Williams said he’s still got something to prove.

“I just want people to know that we maybe didn’t have that great of a season, but we fought hard and did the best that we could do,” Williams said. “We gave 100 percent every game and every day in practice.

“It’s going to be very emotional, but it’s still a game that we’re going to have to try to win. Hopefully, we’ll go out there and do our best and play like it’s a regular game.”

And while Williams’ career may be quickly coming to a close, Barnard is confident that his larger-than-life legacy will live on for years to come.

“I’m guessing they’ll remember King Williams around here for a long, long time,” Barnard said.

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