His idol may be former NFL cornerback Deion Sanders but Stonewall Jackson senior Marquice Williams penchant for flashiness is overshadowed by his ability to hit, both offensively and defensively.
At outside linebacker, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound fireplug is the cog in the Raiders defense. On offense, Williams is a tough, slashing runner who will share carries this season with the diminutive but speedy Chris Garrett.
“I might not have all the size but my aggression and speed, that takes over,” said Williams, who wears No. 21 in homage to his boyhood hero.
For Stonewall coach Jim Powell, hes exactly what the team needs, especially on defense.
“Were going to look for him to lead the defense and hes going to be around the football a lot,” Powell said. “Hes got speed, he gets to the ball and is very aggressive so hell definitely be a leader on defense.”
To Williams, being a leader means letting his play do the talking for him.
“I try to set an example and get them all pumped up when we go on the field,” Williams said. “… I like to show enthusiasm and I think defense needs that attitude.”
Williams first found football in middle school when he and his family moved from Washington D.C. to Manassas. Actually, Williams found out about Sanders and the rest was pigskin history.
“I started playing football at about 11 years old when I came out here,” Williams said. “I could run fast and I would play outside [as a kid]. Deion Sanders was my idol and Id just see him and I wanted to play football and make touchdowns like him.”
On occasion, Williams has shown off Sanders-like brilliance. Against Gar-Field early in the 2001 season, Williams returned a kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown for the teams only score. But Williams, who recorded 78 tackles, three sacks and one interception as a junior, knows where hes needed the most.
“If I had to choose, I would probably play just defense because I think our team needs me more on defense than on offense,” Williams said.
Williams credits linebacker coaches Kevin Kerns and Bill Holsclaw for making him the type of player he is today.
“They taught how me to be aggressive and just go,” Williams said. “Get out there and just do it and do it, just go your hardest.”
“He gives it everything hes got,” Holsclaw said. “He is totally all out. He is what you call a 100 percent-plus player. Hes a good football player and a good kid.”
That aggressiveness has translated into a fearless attitude on offense as well.
“When I run the ball, I just dont go down on those little soft tackles,” Williams said. “I am going to try and punish you when you try to tackle me. Ill stiff-arm you or put the shoulder into you.”
Powell believes that Williams can play college ball, maybe even Division I, if things click this year.
“Hes a hard-working kid and hes got a lot of potential,” Powell said. “He can definitely play for somebody somewhere. It depends on how well he plays this year and how things go. Hes a quality athlete. I think he can play strong safety, free safety and possibly even running back [in college].”
With the graduation of versatile quarterback Thomas Witsman, who threw for 764 yards and ran for a team-high 473 yards and eight touchdowns, Williams and Garrett will have to carry the load offensively. After starting the season on the freshman squad last year, Garrett had 439 yards and six TDs in just seven games.
When Garrett is running the ball, Williams could see some time at fullback. When Williams gets the nod, Ricky Sisk will probably see action at fullback. Both Williams and Sisk are replacing starter Brian Roebuck, who moved to New Jersey.
“Hes small so they dont want him to take a lot of beatings,” Williams said of the 5-foot-8 Garrett, who weighs in at 151 pounds. “They dont know if he can handle all that.”
Much of the duos success, says Williams, will hinge on the success of the offensive line, who could start up to three sophomores this season. Gone are starters Scott BeMiller and David Johnson, whos playing football for Shenandoah University.
“If our offensive line does what they are supposed to do, we should be all right,” Williams said. “Because we [Garrett and I] can light up the scoreboard.”
And Williams cant hide the fact that he likes the ball in his hands.
“Scoring touchdowns is me,” Williams said. “I can make plays and put the ball in the end zone.”