C.J. Williams doesn't come off the field much when Calvert Hall plays a big football game. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound running back-linebacker is critical to the No. 2 Cardinals on both sides of the ball.
So, chances are the senior won't sit much in Thursday's 92nd annual Turkey Bowl against Loyola at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium.
In Friday night's inaugural MIAA A Conference championship game, Williams, 18, scored the second touchdown to give the Cardinals a 14-0 jump on No. 1 Gilman, but the Greyhounds came back to win 34-32 in double overtime. The senior has rushed for 605 yards, caught passes for 422 yards and scored nine touchdowns this fall.
Williams, who helped the Cardinals to the A Conference title last year, has a 3.1 GPA. He has drawn a few college offers, including one from Bucknell, but is still considering his options. He's not sure about a college major but is thinking about sports management.
How did you get started playing football?
Just watching the Ravens in that Super Bowl run really inspired me to play. Ever since then, I've just loved football and everything about the game.
Were you always a running back?
Actually, no, I wasn't. In rec I was a right guard and nose guard and I always wanted to run the ball. I always had a passion for that, and as I got older I became a running back and linebacker.
Describe your role on this team.
A leader to everyone. I’m more of a leader by example, not the biggest speaker on the team, but I’ll definitely get in someone’s face and make sure they’re doing the right thing. People will follow me as they watch me run after practice. I’m always running steps and that inspires a lot of teammates.
As a running back and a linebacker, are you more offense oriented or defense oriented?
That's a tough one. The Gilman game, I was on the field the whole time, and I'd say it's split even. I don't have a bigger role on offense or defense. It's about even.
Do you prefer one over the other?
I like defense a little better, just because I like to hit, but I like them both a lot.
What was the championship game against Gilman like?
The atmosphere was crazy. It gave you goose bumps just walking on the field. Big game. It's tough losing that game. I feel like my team gave it everything they had. They left everything they had on the field and I couldn't be any more proud of my team.
What feelings run through your mind when you’re playing in overtime against Gilman?
There’s so many things running through my mind: Not to let my team down [or] all of Calvert Hall. I was thinking make a big play and win this game for my team. We could have made that big play but we gave it everything we had and I gave it everything I had.
Was that the most intense game you've ever played in?
I'd definitely say it was the most physical game I'd ever played in. Every play, you had a guy hitting you, and it's a big rivalry. The past three or four years this rivalry had gotten bigger and bigger each year. We don't like them (laughs) and they don't like us, so we both come to hit and it's a physical battle.
Is it difficult to come back six days later from such a physical, emotional game to play your biggest rival?
For the normal person it would be, but after a loss like that I think me and my team just want to get back on that field and redeem ourselves. It definitely helps playing Loyola, because who else would you want to play after that? This game is just big. Everyone looks forward to it. We circle it on the schedule. We're so ready to play this game. We don't need time to prepare. We already know what to expect.
What do you like most about the Turkey Bowl?
That it’s on Thanksgiving. Families come out and a lot of people come out to just watch the game and have a good time. I would say playing under the spotlight is always fun with being on TV. Playing that last game with your seniors and me being a senior this year, it’s definitely going to mean a lot.
Does it matter that the game is not at M&T Bank Stadium?
It does a little bit, but I think the difference will be that Towson will be more packed. It only holds 11,000, so it'll seem like there's a lot more people there. It's not a big difference. The game's still televised and it'll still be a great experience, playing in a college stadium.
Did your dad or any of your family play at Calvert Hall?
No. My dad lives in my footsteps (laughs). I’m the first one to go to Calvert Hall. I always wanted to go to Calvert Hall. Actually since Coach Davis came up to me at a football camp in sixth grade, ever since then I wanted to got to Calvert Hall. I marked it on my calendar, ‘Go to Calvert Hall.’ I didn’t shadow any other high school. It was right then and there, ‘Go to Calvert Hall.’ My parents were like, ‘You sure you don’t want to shadow Loyola or Gilman?’ I was like, ‘No. I’m going to Calvert Hall.’ The facilities, everything was awesome. It was a home run for me. I loved it.
Do you like having the playoffs rather than having the regular-season winner crowned conference champ?
I liked having the playoffs because it's gives an opponent a fair chance to win rather than having that one loss in the regular season and not being able to redeem yourself. It gives you that second chance. I think it's more NFL-like and it's better for the whole MIAA rather than just one team.
What do you do in your spare time?
Hang out with friends, go to the movies, listen to music. I definitely work out a lot. I’m a workout warrior. I work out every day, lift and run.
What are your Thanksgiving Day plans?
My whole family's coming over from my mom and dad's side. They always come to watch the game. After we play Loyola, we get home and we have a big Thanksgiving dinner. Then we're going to sit down and watch the Ravens' game, just relax.
What are you most looking forward to eating on Thanksgiving?
Stuffing. I love stuffing. I don't know what it is about stuffing, but I could eat that for days.
What are you thankful for?
I'm thankful for the opportunity to come to a school like this, to play with my teammates from freshman to senior year and most importantly, the coaches I've been able to have. Coach Davis and our assistant coaches, every one of them has been amazing and really helped me out and got me to the place where I am now. And naturally, God.
What are you looking forward to doing when the season's over?
Just having a little time off. Spend more time with my family, I guess. Maybe get a little more sleep. And figure out where I'm going to college.
92nd Turkey Bowl
92nd Turkey Bowl
No. 2 Calvert Hall (9-2) vs. Loyola (4-5)
When: Thursday, 10 a.m.
Where: Johnny Unitas Stadium, Towson University
Last meeting: Calvert Hall won, 41-13, last season
Series: Loyola leads, 48-35-8
TV: Ch. 2