Charles Williams, near the close of a Bullard High practice this week, raced off right tackle and into the end zone from 30 yards out in a Knights shotgun wing-T offense newly implemented this season, and coach Donnie Arax breathed with comfort.
“Bouncy,” Arax would say later.
Meaning that Williams’ legs appear to have life, paramount in Bullard’s pursuit of a second Central Section football title in the school’s history.
The first came in the program’s 54th year, in 2009, when the Knights defeated Centennial 42-31 for the Division I crown at McLane Stadium.
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Two years later – and this is significant in regard to Williams – Bullard’s Demetrius Warren bolted free for what surely would be a 70-yard touchdown run against Bakersfield early in another D-I final, only at Griffith Field in Kern County.
But Warren suddenly dropped a couple of gears and angled out of bounds.
“He pulled up; he had nothing left,” Arax recounts of a game ultimately lost 38-3.
Warren finished the game, but was clearly physically spent in a season in which the 5-foot-7, 165-pounder rushed for a school single-season record 2,546 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Williams, at 5-11, 180, will carry 1,841 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns into the third-seeded Knights’ D-I quarterfinal against No. 6 Clovis West on Friday night at McLane Stadium.
He has averaged 23.6 carries per game for Bullard (8-2), but it probably would have been more had not Arax and staff learned from the Warren experience.
“We’ve made a conscious effort not to overrun Charles,” Arax says. “Charles is a bigger guy than Demetrius, and we knew, in a big game, we had to give him the ball. But, in some of the other games, we’ve shut him down.
“We’ve gotten a little smarter as we’ve gone along about keeping guys fresh. We still hit more than most teams, but we tend to stay pretty healthy, and a lot of it has to do with our strength-and-conditioning program. We lift three days a week; we keep it rolling.”
Williams has been offered scholarships by Eastern Washington, Idaho, UNLV, UTEP, Washington State and Wyoming, but there could be a new big man on the block.
Tony Perry, for years the section’s best contact with college recruiters, says an assistant from Notre Dame will come to Fresno to talk to Williams on Nov. 30, two days after the Irish play at Stanford.
Games of the week (all Friday)
No. 8 Edison (5-6) at No. 1 Clovis (9-1), D-I: The Tigers, a year after rallying past the Cougars 21-14 in a semifinal, are confident in defusing Clovis’ electrifying aerial attack and scoring an upset.
No. 5 Clovis North (6-4) at No. 4 Buchanan (7-3), D-I: Broncos running back Jayson Lee opposes dandy rushing defense of Buchanan, which shared TRAC title with Clovis in its first winning season since 2010.
No. 10 Central (4-7) at No. 2 Liberty-Bakersfield (6-3), D-I: Central, loose, talented and best 4-7 team in state?
No. 5 Sunnyside (7-3) at No. 4 Tulare (9-1), D-II: Redskins running back Romello Harris (knee) has been denied an MRI, so far, because of medical insurance issues, coach Darren Bennett says. Consequently, Bennett says it’s “very doubtful” the 7,311-yard career rusher will play against the Wildcats. “He wants to play, but I’m not going to risk it because he has such a bright future ahead of him. He’s very disappointed.”
No. 8 Kingsburg (6-5) at No. 1 Hanford (9-1), D-III: Uplifting news for the Bullpups in that receiver/cornerback Juwuane Hughes – among section’s elite players – has been cleared to participate in his first game since breaking an arm Sept. 18 in a 27-21 nonleague win at Porterville. Hughes played integral roles in Hanford’s section titles in football (D-III) and basketball (D-II) last year.