Reynolds football's Dre'Quan Williams just wants to run
He knew something was wrong the moment he hit the ground, but it was another week before he truly understood the severity of what had happened.
It was a showdown against the eventual state champs, Central Catholic, in the third game of the year on homecoming night. Reynolds was moving the ball thanks to the legs of power back Dre'Quan Williams, a then junior bruiser who was well on his way to a decorated year.
Then came the tackle that derailed everything.
On a basic run up the middle, Williams felt something tweak in his knee. He left the game for a while, but was able to move around well enough to think nothing of it, and with Central running away with the score, there was no need to rush back into things that night. Williams even suited up the following week against Nelson, which only further aggravated the injury.
"I felt something pop," Williams said.
A visit to the doctor confirmed the worst — a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and an end to what had already been a pandemic-shortened season, with the Raiders forfeiting the first two games of the year due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
"It is difficult when a kid gets injured and you don't have a clear timetable for a return," Reynolds Coach Kelly Murphy said. "But he responded and did everything right to get back on the field."
Murphy only had to step in a few times to quell Williams' eagerness to play, ensuring his runner followed doctor's orders and didn't risk reaggravating his knee.
"Health and safety always come first," Murphy said.
One surgery and six months of intensive rehab later, and the Raiders star runner is back in pads on the field for one last hurrah in the green and silver.
"I just wanted to come back and do what I love," Williams said. "Football is about that excitement and playing alongside your teammates."
Williams represents what Reynolds football is about, a hardworking team that doesn't have any one player step into the limelight. The mantra is "All In," an idea that 20 senior leaders have all bought into. And so far the results are matching the dedication in practice, with the Raiders turning heads in the early weeks of the 2022 season.
"Winning is difficult … all these kids understand that," Murphy said. "We are taking it one game at a time."
Williams is a bruiser in every sense of the word. The 6-foot, 200-pound tailback loves getting downhill, and bursts through any holes opened by the offensive line with controlled abandon. He gets low, finishes through tacklers, and always falls forward for a few extra yards. On defense he is a vocal leader as an inside linebacker. His coach is confident his talents would have earned all-conference awards if not for the injury.
"Dre'Quan brings his leadership alongside his 20 brothers, seniors," Coach Murphy said. "He is hardworking and plays with grit."
Reynolds is shining right now. In the season opener the Raiders ran Cleveland off the field 41-0, followed by a 13-7 battle over Roosevelt in week two. In those contests, Williams showed up on the stat sheet with 30 carries for 197 yards and two rushing TDs, as well as 10 tackles and two sacks on defense.
And true to his humble demeanor, the senior runner was quick to shift all praise toward his offensive line.
"Without them none of our plays would go anywhere," he said.
For Williams, last year is far in the rearview. There were no nerves on that first carry, no flinching away from that first tackle. It's just excitement for each play and a desire to make the most of his senior season.
"I just want to run," he said with a smile.
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