When Jamar Williams arrived at South Carroll as a sophomore, coach Steve Luette originally played him as a receiver.
It didn't take long for Luette to notice Williams' speed, and he was moved to running back full time by his senior year. The change ignited a flame under Williams, and the football field became his firepower.
"When we made the transition on offense and he started at running back, the team got behind him and got excited when he started running and racking up yardage," Luette said. "He leads by example and is pretty vocal on and off the field — he leads verbally as well as by his actions."
The running back capped his senior campaign as the county's leading rusher with 1,562 yards, and he scored a Carroll-best 26 touchdowns. Williams found the end zone in eight games, and surpassed 200 yards four times, to earn Times Football Player of the Year honors.
In SC's 38-14 victory over Manchester Valley on Sept. 30, Williams carried the ball 32 times for 334 yards and five touchdowns. The yardage put him ahead of Chris Gavin's 325 yards for the most in one game by a South Carroll player in program history.
"My line opened up some holes that made me look good and I give all the credit to them," Williams said. "They helped me score those touchdowns, the long runs that I had, they opened up some great holes. Even if they were small, they were holes I could get through."
Williams said he started playing football at age 4 and said he had always played at the quarterback position. He transferred to South Carroll from Bluford Drew Jemison Academy in Baltimore, and Luette said he only had experience at the recreational league level — not high school.
"When he came over I saw him practice with us and the first time we got him, I knew he would be fast," Luette said. "That was obvious and as he developed, the key was to try and get him to the high school football mode and away from the rec football mode. Rec ball teaches line blocks a lot different than high school and the guys really know what they're doing. From an offensive standpoint, we had to get him to read blocks and understand how the plays are set up and designed."
Williams, a Times first-team all-county pick in 2015, led the Cavaliers to three victories of 30 or more points this season. South Carroll finished 4-6, however, and missed the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
Despite those losses, Williams continued to hold his head high for his teammates, his coach and for himself.
"[Luette] made me become a man and step up to be a leader," Williams said. "We had a really young team this year and he said, 'OK, we need you guys to get them pumped up and motivated before these games to have a great year.' We had a great year with a couple tough losses but we bounced back from those."
Leadership was a highlight that Williams strived to achieve prior to the season's beginning. He also wanted to get stronger and faster — goals he accomplished as the season progressed. At defensive back, Williams was second among the Cavs with 95 tackles.
Credit his wrestling tactics for that — Williams is a two-time state champion who went 53-1 with 42 pins last season.
"Between wrestling and football, he knows a lot of what to do to become a good athlete," Luette said. "Naturally, I'm not sure if he has an ounce of body fat on him. He works hard and eats properly to stay in shape and does what he needs to do to prepare for a game."
Williams hurt his shin halfway through the season which turned out to be a stress fracture he was playing with for most of the year. Luette praised his ability to fight through the pain and overcome adversity — it reflected on his teammates as well.
He'll join fellow Cavaliers Henry Cook and AJ Linn in the Baltimore Touchdown Club All-Star Classic on Dec. 10. After that, his focus will be on the wrestling season and trying to guide SC to a fourth straight team state crown.
Next year, Williams said he hopes to play football or wrestle in college. Wherever he goes, Luette said he wishes him nothing but the best.
"I'll miss watching him play," Luette said. "He's an exciting player to watch offensively, especially when he does things that I can fast forward ahead to think he can do and he does it — break a long run, make a cut and he's gone.
"He's fun to watch on both sides, and boy, he can come up and make a tackle."
Century: Christian Bergamaschi, Anthony Perrone, Ryan Pickrel. Liberty: Spencer Kirin, Nick Loppatto, Corey Luthe, Josh Reuhl. Manchester Valley: Connor O'Donnell. South Carroll: AJ Linn, Patrick Quinn. Westminster: Ian Gould, Logan Nave, Caleb Smalls. Winters Mill: Alex Barnes, Troy Blessing, Nate Forte, Cody Freels.
Century: Johnny Pearson, Jake Schneider. Francis Scott Key: Nate Imes, Steven Keeney, Brett Rinehart. Liberty: Alec Pellicciotti, Noah Rohrer, Vince Ferraris. Manchester Valley: Michael Dickens, Dan Melville. South Carroll: Jake Klein, Jacob Snell, Dylan Wilson. Westminster: Dylan Lane, Wayne Williams. Winters Mill: Nate Forte.