For most of the season Dan Williams was in and out of the lineup as the quarterback for the Timber Creek Regional High School football team. Williams rotated with Miles Nash, and at times, Jagger Green, at the position, with each showing reason to continue to earn playing time.
By the end of the regular season Williams had finally placed himself as the go-to guy at the position and was tasked with leading the Chargers back to the state finals.
On the first playoff game of his career, Williams made his head coach look like a genius.
Williams threw for three scores and ran for another, leading No. 1 Timber Creek to a 37-6 win over No. 8 Hammonton, in a rematch of last year’s Group 3 final.
The Chargers will face No. 5 Shawnee in the Group 4 semifinals, in two weeks.
“He just lives and dies for football,” Timber Creek coach Rob Hinson said of Williams. “He’s always trying to get better, staying after practices with coaches. He did a fantastic job.”
Williams was 18-of-25 for 262 yards, while connecting with eight different receivers.
“I just wanted to come out here and do the best I could to help my team get a 'W,'” Williams said. “That’s all that matters to me. At the end of the day I don’t care if it’s 12-2 or 2-0, as long as we win.”
Williams opened the scoring with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Gary Sandes on the Chargers’ first drive. A couple of series later, he gave Timber Creek a 12-0 lead when he powered up the middle on a sneak on 4th-and-goal at the 1, with 6:12 left. He capped the first half with a nine-year pass to Khalil Pierce, who made some nifty moves on his way to the end zone.
“He stepped up today and I’m proud of him,” said Pierce. “We all are.”
Hammonton showed signs of life late in the first half when a long kick return set up a 10-yard touchdown pass from Christian Mortellite to Allesandro Padovani with 16 seconds left to bring the Blue Devils within 18-6.
After forcing Hammonton to punt on its first possession of the second half, the Chargers again came through on fourth-and-goal. Pierce took a pitch from Williams and sprinted to his right for a 1-yard score.
“We knew we beat this team in the championship last year and they were going to come out her hard,” Pierce said. “We gave it our all during practice and it showed.”
On its next offensive series, Timber Creek got another one of its weapons involved in the offense. Wide receiver Adonis Jennings took a handoff and sprinted past the Blue Devils defense for a 40-yard touchdown– carrying a Hammonton defender for the last five yards.
Jennings was also heavily involved in the passing game, making five catches for 78 yards.
“He’s a track kid so we knew he could run,” Hinson said. “We have been working on ways to get him the ball more because he can be very, very beneficial to us.”
The Chargers capped the scoring with 8:26 left in the fourth when Sandes made a diving catch in the end zone for a 20-yard score.
“A lot of guys can make plays,” said Williams. “Garry, Adonis, Kevin (Casey), Dajaun (Drennon), Bryce (Shade) – they all make plays. We have a lot of stars out there; I just have to get the ball to them. That’s my main focus.”
Hinson said Williams improved play makes the team that much more dangerous the rest of the way.
“He’s doing some of the things we expect him to do and he’s only getting better,” said Hinson. “He works so hard and is such a student of the game, so for him to have a game like he did tonight really gives us confidence going forward.”
Williams is happy to be the clear starter now at Timber Creek, but has remained humble. Even when he was part of a rotation, his focus was always on the team, and not on himself.
“(The quarterbacks) all had a good relationship so we were all just backing each other up,” Williams said. “Whenever the other one was in we were all clapping on the sideline. We just wanted whoever was in to succeed. It’s all about winning here.”