Ke’Shawn Williams has Springside Chestnut Hill football team off to fast start
The senior all-purpose star, a Kent State recruit, has led the Blue Devils to a 5-0 record entering Inter-Ac League play.
It might have been that thunderous crack-back block against Roman Catholic.
Or maybe that rugged run up the middle against Archbishop Ryan.
Or that cut into the heart of the defense — shoulders low, legs churning — on that pitch-out vs. the Hill School.
It likely was all three, plus dozens of other examples through Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s 5-0 start, that best underscored dynamic all-purpose star Ke’Shawn Williams’ ferociously physical approach to his senior season.
“Whatever it takes,” Williams said. “I had one of my coaches ask me, ‘How do you want to be remembered?’
“For me, I want to win. I’ll do whatever to help this team win. Offense, defense, special teams, whatever.”
It’s not like Williams shirked from contact during his break-out junior season, when he set an Inter-Ac League record with 1,066 receiving yards on 67 catches, including 11 for touchdowns.
But Springside Chestnut Hill coach Rick Knox has noticed a difference in the Blue Devils’ electric playmaker in his final season for the prestigious private school in northwest Philadelphia.
“He’s only gotten better since last year,” Knox said. “Last year, he was maybe 165 pounds. Now he’s put on 15, 20 pounds and he’s really hard to tackle.
“The thing that differentiates him for me is when he gets the ball in his hands, there’s this dogged determination, like, ‘I’m scoring a touchdown.’ ”
A Kent State recruit, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Williams has led the way for a Springside Chestnut Hill team that has averaged 40.6 points and won every game by double digits in advance of Inter-Ac league competition.
Springside Chestnut Hill will open league play Saturday at home vs. Haverford School.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Williams said of Inter-Ac play. “We have a history of being known as one of the weaker teams in the league, but this year is another case.
“I think we’re one of the stronger teams, a team that people are looking out for.”
In the Blue Devils’ first five games, Williams has caught 18 passes for 417 yards (23.1 yards per catch) and seven touchdowns. He also has 11 carries for another 112 yards (10.1 yards per carry).
Williams has two kick returns for touchdowns and also brought back an interception 85 yards for a score in a 44-7 win over Roman Catholic.
“As a senior and a captain, he’s biting at the bit to have any chance to make a play,” Knox said.
Williams showed glimpses of his potential as a freshman and sophomore, although he was slowed both seasons by nagging injuries.
“There was a catch he made as a freshman in a JV game where he did this one-hand, toe-tap on the sideline and we were like, ‘Did he do that as a freshman?’ ” Knox said.
Episcopal Academy coach Todd Fairlie regards Williams as one of the most dynamic players in recent Inter-Ac League history.
“He’s special given anytime he touches the ball he has a chance to score,” Fairlie said.
Williams, who lives in North Philadelphia, is a top student who is highly regarded in the school for his maturity and character as well as his athletic ability, according to Knox.
“Everybody in school knows him,” Knox said. “Our headmaster thinks he’s amazing. The head of upper school, the guidance people, everybody just really respects him.”
Williams is an outstanding basketball player who averaged 17.1 points as a junior and was a first-team, All-Inter-Ac League selection. The explosive first step, change of pace and change of direction that work so well on the hardwood translate to the gridiron, especially in the open field.
But Williams has been running through some would-be tacklers this season, too.
“I do what I have to do to get where I need to get,” Williams said. “But I prefer running around them, to be honest. I have to keep a little wear-and-tear off of me.”