By Dick Dornan
MyBurbank Sports Editor
Summer football begins Monday for the Burbank High football team and no one is more revved up than senior tailback James Williams.
With talent oozing on every breathtaking move of his, Williams fulfilled a lifetime dream by being offered a division one scholarship. He then made it a reality when he verbally committed to Washington State University last month.
“When they (Washington State) told me they wanted to offer me a full scholarship I was very excited. I knew that my dream was coming true,” Williams said. “It took a lot of weight off my shoulders. Now I don’t have to worry about going to all these camps spending a lot of money. All I have to do now is worry about school, football and passing my SAT.”
First-year Burbank head coach Richard Broussard has been smiling ear-to-ear seeing his prodigy reap the reward of hard work.
“James deserves it. He’s our hardest worker and our best player,” Broussard said. “If anyone deserves a scholarship offer and the opportunity to play college football, it’s him. He worked for it and he earned it. When you’re good and you work hard, good things happen to you.”
With one season left at Burbank, Williams has three goals left in mind: first, to win a league title. Second, to win the schools’ first-ever CIF championship. Third, to set the school single-season rushing record. All of these goals are within reach.
Burbank’s nemesis in the Pacific League recently has been Muir. The Mustangs have won back-to-back league titles during Williams’ time on the varsity.
A year ago the Bulldogs lost in the CIF Southeast Division semifinals to La Serna, 28-21, the eventual CIF champions. Burbank won a school record 10 games but didn’t have a healthy Williams for the tilt against the Lancers.
What might have been with a healthy James Williams we will never know? We can only speculate.
What we do know is that Williams has rushed for a school record 2,912 career rushing yards on 297 carries for a whopping 9.81 yards per carry in his two high school seasons. He ran for 1,443 yards in 2012 and 1,469 in 2013.
Ulises Ochoa currently has the single-season school record with 1,504 yards set in 2009.
Williams scored a single-season school record 22 rushing touchdowns last year and has hit pay dirt 39 times overall running the ball.
When taking into account all-purpose yardage, Williams set the single-season school record in 2013 with 2,307 yards. He has lit up the scoreboard 46 times in his two seasons.
Against Crescenta Valley last year, Williams ran wild for 278 yards, the most ever in a game in BHS history.
“I’m just glad I don’t have to play against him,” said Broussard. “He’s a freak of nature. He does some amazing things with the ball in his hands.”
Add it all up and Williams’ talent and sheer ability have resulted in five college offers thus far: Washington State, Arizona, California, San Diego State and Utah.
This past weekend Williams visited Wazzou and hasn’t wavered in his commitment to the Cougars.
“Washington State’s running back gets the ball a lot more than anyone on the field. I can go there and catch, and run, block and do everything,” he said. “I’m trying to get as big and as fast I can before the season. I want to be ready for the Pac-12.”
Will the bitter cold of Pullman, Wash., in the Northwest be an issue?
“The cold won’t be anything because I’m from Ohio,” said the Ohio-born Williams.
The regular season begins August 29 at Ayala. Expect Broussard to give the ball to Williams more than he has ever before. A record-breaking season by Williams and possibly a championship season in one form or another by the Bulldogs will be at the forefront for 2014.
In the meantime, Williams’ commitment to WSU is an ongoing celebration for the Burbank family.
“It’s awesome and great for the school. The amount of exposure with a bunch of division one schools on campus has been great,” Broussard said. “We’ve never had this much traffic since I’ve been here. We are blessed to be over here at Burbank. We need to relish in it and appreciate it.”