Junior running back has rallied Monrovia
The O-line is always executing blocks to make holes the size of the Red Sea, said Monrovia running back Marquise Williams, who has rushed for over 200 yards in each of the last two games. (Sarah Reingewirtz/Staff)
By Scott Galetti, Staff Writer
MONROVIA – In the grand scheme of things, he is just one of the guys on the Monrovia High School football team.
Wildcats running back Marquise Williams will be the first to tell you that he’s no more special than any other player on the squad.
He is, however, a major reason Monrovia is still playing over the Thanksgiving holiday when the Wildcats play host to No. 1-seeded Paraclete in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Mid Valley Division playoffs Friday night at 7.
With the talented junior, along with backfield running mate Dwight Smith in the lineup, Monrovia is a well-oiled machine that’s hard to stop.
Without him, however, the Wildcats offense isn’t quite as dynamic.
Williams began the season in style when he rambled for 154 yards and a touchdown against Montclair on Aug.31.
His season took a turn for the worse the following week when he suffered a high ankle sprain on the first series of the game against Duarte.
It was an injury that would keep Williams out for nearly four games.
“I couldn’t take it and tried to do anything to play. It was horrible for me,” Williams said.
The Wildcats went on to lose the game against Duarte, as well as the next three with Williams out of the lineup.
“I don’t know if we can put it all on Marquise’s shoulders the fact that we sputtered, we certainly made enough mistakes in a lot of different areas,” Monrovia coach Steve Garrison said. “I would say, rather than us sputtering, you could certainly tell, when he did come back, that it was a big boost for us.”
It’s ultimately been a boost that has catapulted the Wildcats to a 5-1 record down the stretch.
Despite missing those four games, Williams still leads the Wildcats in rushing with 1,081 yards and nine touchdowns.
He credits tight end Brandon Brooks and the Monrovia offensive line for his success.
“Brandon is always out there making good blocks and the O-line is always executing blocks to make holes the size of the Red Sea, so a lot of it goes to them,” Williams said.
Williams’ much anticipated return came against South Pasadena on Oct.12. And it was every bit as spectacular as his first game, as he rushed for 163 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries as the Wildcats defeated the Tigers, 41-16.
“I couldn’t wait and they said I could play and I was ready,” Williams said.
While his first two complete games may have been huge, Williams saves his best when it counts, and the best may still be to come.
With a share of the Rio Hondo League championship at stake against rival Temple City, Williams put on a performance for the ages, chalking up 234 yards and a touchdown on 19 attempts to lead Monrovia to a 37-7 victory.
Against host Cantwell-Sacred Heart in the opening round of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs, Williams sent Monrovia to victory when he ran 26 times for 274 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown with 24 seconds remaining to give the Wildcats a 28-21 win.
“Anytime that you can run the ball and play good defense behind that, those are the qualities that you must have to win in the playoffs and we were able to do that in the last two weeks,” Garrison said. “We went over to Temple City, a place where we hadn’t won in several years, and Marquise had a big night running the ball. We played some really good defense in shutting down their running back over there, and those are the kind of things we’ve been looking for all year. With the exception of one quarter of football, we were able to maintain that last week.”
Football has become second nature for Williams, who began playing in Junior All-American as a running back.
“He’s been running the ball for a number of years and he enjoys the game a lot,” Garrison said. “He just really enjoys the game of football, and when he gets the opportunity to run the ball and run hard, he really does a good job at it.
“He kind of becomes a man possessed a little and I really think he’s come around into his own the last couple of weeks.”
In order to prepare for his senior season and beyond, according to Garrison, Williams needs to improve getting his pad level lower during the run, as well as working on his blocking and pass protection.
Garrison believes if Williams can do that, then he’ll be a complete back.
“Those are areas that, I think, will continue to come as he continues to grow and mature,” Garrison said. “If this young man really dedicates and commits himself to the weight room, I really think he’ll make a big name for himself out in this area during his senior year.”
Although he more than likely won’t begin thinking about it until the fall, Williams would like to play football on the college level and is considering journalism as his field of choice.