Cards Break Out Run Game

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - SPORTS WEEK - Mark Humphrey Game Jour­nal

As Caleb Wil­liams grew up play­ing foot­ball in the Farm­ing­ton pee wee pro­gram run­ning back was not on his mind.

Prior to sev­enth grade, Wil­liams was used pri­mar­ily as a blocker with his low cen­ter of grav­ity and up­per body strength. Now a se­nior, Wil­liams mea­sures 5-feet-8 and weighs 190 pounds. He bench­presses 325 and runs the 40 in 4.6 sec­onds. Wil­liams’ rush­ing em­pow­ered Farm­ing­ton to over­come a quandary of mis­takes en route to a 48-18 non­con­fer­ence win over Huntsville Fri­day.

He played cen­ter in fifth grade, then switched to full­back as a sixth-grader. In sev­enth grade his coach Spencer Adams en­vi­sioned a play­maker in the mak­ing and moved Wil­liams to tail­back. That strate­gic de­ci­sion has paid hand­some div­i­dends for both Wil­liams and Car­di­nal foot­ball ever since.

Dur­ing Wil­liams’ first game as a sev­enth-grader six years ago the Car­di­nals suf­fered a sack and penal­ties that put their of­fense in a hole in the shadow of their own goal line. Arkansas sev­enth-grade foot­ball rules al­low coaches in the of­fen­sive hud­dle to teach young­sters the finer points of the game. None-the-less there aren’t many plays at the sev­enth-grade level de­signed for third down and 34.

Hud­dling in the end zone, Spencer Adams called Wil­liams’ num­ber to run a sweep left to the wide side of the field and a tail­back was re­vealed.

“My heels were on the three yard line, I was the ex­treme far back,” Wil­liams said, re­call­ing the mo­ment he be­came sold on play­ing the po­si­tion.

“When he called the play I thought to my­self there’s only one way this play’s go­ing to work, that’s if I do a lit­tle shim­my­ing,” Wil­liams said.

Wil­liams turned the cor­ner and not only gained the first down, but ran the length of Allen Hol­land Field 90 yards plus for a touch­down against Huntsville.

“That was the mo­ment when I knew I loved play­ing run­ning back,” Wil­liams said. “That was the first year I got to play it.”

Fast for­ward to Fri­day. Turnovers plagued the Car­di­nals through­out the first half. Three Farm­ing­ton fum­bles were re­cov­ered by Huntsville and the Ea­gles also came away with an in­ter­cep­tion. Huntsville cap­i­tal­ized on a Farm­ing­ton mis­cue on spe­cial teams. Zack Elsey pounced on a punt the Car­di­nals failed to field. His 25-yard touch­down re­cep­tion from Sean McCone got Huntsville on the score­board at the six minute mark of the sec­ond quar­ter.

Farm­ing­ton found the an­ti­dote for their trou­bles was to run the foot­ball ef­fec­tively, then throw at op­por­tune times. Wil­liams amassed a ca­reer-best 173 yards on the ground to go with two touch­downs on 18 car­ries to pace Farm­ing­ton, which piled up 378 yards rush­ing. Ju­nior tail­back Di­mariae Dono­van added 80 yards on just six car­ries, high­lighted by a 50-yard touch­down run that capped the scor­ing.

There were first half is­sues, in­clud­ing a fum­ble that Cyrus Crow re­cov­ered for Huntsville on the sec­ond play from scrim­mage. The Ea­gles threat­ened briefly with McCone hit­ting Elsey for 19 yards to set up a first down at the Car­di­nal 31. On the next play Ja­van Jow­ers re­stored pos­ses­sion to Farm­ing­ton with an in­ter­cep­tion.

The Car­di­nal of­fense needed only 2:15 to tra­verse 55 yards to take the lead. Jared Oskey lined up at full­back and burst through the mid­dle, then got out­side for 24 yards to over­come a sec­ond-and-13 sit­u­a­tion. Wil­liams ac­counted for the fi­nal 34 yards on four straight car­ries, capped by a 9-yard bull rush for a touch­down. Drew Stur­geon kicked the ex­tra-point and Farm­ing­ton led 7-0 with 8:26 to play in the first quar­ter.

The Car­di­nals es­tab­lished a 21-6 lead at in­ter­mis­sion, scor­ing on a pair of Trey Wag­gle touch­down passes to tight end Ja­cob Gray and wide re­ceiver Xavier Staten.

Farm­ing­ton put the game away dur­ing the third quar­ter. Reid Turner, Oskey and Wil­liams took turns scor­ing as the Car­di­nal of­fense pro­duced touch­downs on their first three pos­ses­sions to be­gin the sec­ond half. Turner took a quick-pitch right, turned the cor­ner and stayed in bounds while hug­ging the right side­line rac­ing 37 yards to pay dirt. Wil­liams added a 10-yard touch­down run at the 11:13 mark of the fourth quar­ter.

Wil­liams knows he isn’t mak­ing all those yards on his own. He is quick to credit his of­fen­sive line for open­ing holes, prais­ing them for do­ing a great job block­ing. Wil­liams feels run­ning be­hind huge guys, he can get five yards a carry. Through two games he’s av­er­ag­ing 6.4-yards-per-rush.

Fri­day Farm­ing­ton takes aim at knock­ing off Class 4A No. 1 Pea Ridge on the Black­hawks’ home turf.

MARK HUMPHREY IS A SPORTS WRITER FOR THE ENTERPRISELEADER.

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