While Creekview looks to reload after its first region championship and state quarterfinals appearance, at least one anchor will return along the offensive line.
John Williams was an all-state selection last season, and while the players around him will be different -- as well as those on the coaching staff -- he said he is still shooting for the same result.
“We have a bunch of seniors still,” said Williams, a member of the Cherokee Tribune Super Six. “We’re really trying to step up. We’ve taken the lead on learning the new stuff. It’s a young team, so we have to teach them a lot. We have some solid older guys, though, and they’re willing to listen. That’s really all we can ask for.”
Creekview rose to prominence last season behind an offensive scheme that matched their personnel.
With Williams and fellow all-state selection Nick Pendley on the offensive line in front of dual-threat quarterback Ethan Dirrim and Class AAAAAA Offensive Player of the Year Cade Radam, Creekview rushed for more than 3,000 yards as a team.
Pendley is off to Mississippi State, while Radam is at Kennesaw State, but the 6-foot-5, 270-pound Williams said the Grizzlies -- under new coach Trevor Williams -- should once again have an offense catered to their personnel.
“It depends on the personnel,” John Williams said. “We have two great quarterbacks. We have new people who are going to step up. We’ll have a few little changes, but we’re still looking to do what fits our group.”
As he helped lead Creekview to new heights, Williams also got a boost after the season when he saw his future teammates at Clemson win a national championship. Williams committed to the Tigers before his junior season, and he has never reconsidered his decision.
“It was a thing of beauty," Williams said. "I loved watching that so much. I had so many Alabama fans telling me they were going to win. Clemson is my heart and soul. I've been ready to go there for so long.”
Despite his commitment to the Clemson and his status as the No. 27 offensive tackle nationally in the class of 2020 according to 247Sports, Williams said he does not feel any pressure heading into his final season.
Even with a shoulder injury suffered late last year, Williams has kept his focus on improving every day to set himself up for college, and now that he is healthy and ready to go, he just wants to end his high school career as well as possible.
“It’s a mindset,” Williams said. “You would think there would be a lot of pressure, but I’m just trying to keep going, keep grinding and keep pushing. Even with the injury, I’ve been working hard and making sure I’m improving every time I can.”
Williams will also have plenty of chances to improve in his biggest area of concern. He wants to improve is in his leadership, and now that he is one of the Creekview's few seniors, the team will likely need it from Williams more than ever.
“I’ve always been quiet,” he said. “That can work, but I need to grow there, be more vocal and social and help inspire other players to be leaders, too.”