Cards Break Out Run Game
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.