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Williams' loyalty pays off for FitzSimons in win over Edison

FOLKS WITH FOOTBALL in mind were not alone in trying to persuade Richard Williams to leave behind Thomas FitzSimons High.

FOLKS WITH FOOTBALL in mind were not alone in trying to persuade Richard Williams to leave behind Thomas FitzSimons High.

There was also his mother, Katina Cook, and she came at him with what she figured would be irresistible ammunition.

"She thought I'd be happier at a school that also has girls," Williams said, laughing.

Guess who still plays for FitzSimons?

"I couldn't leave behind all my friends," he said. "I hang out with these guys even away from football. We're close. On our off time, the skill guys even get together to do our own workouts."

It took time, and there was lots of frustration along the way, but yesterday the dedication paid off.

In this year's version of the Somebody's Finally Gonna Be Happy Bowl, a non-league game matching winless teams that each had dropped one by forfeit (low numbers), visiting FitzSimons (1-6) topped Thomas Edison (0-9), 14-8, in overtime.

Williams, a 6-1, 165-pound senior quarterback (and safety), who's receiving interest from the likes of Rutgers, Fordham and Norfolk State (for wideout), contributed 119 yards of rushing and passing and played a large role in each Rams touchdown.

He turned a busted play into an 18-yard scramble score with 3 seconds remaining in the third quarter, and then, on the third play of the extra session, he rolled out to his right and hit Nature "Nate" Boyer for a 15-yard TD.

Edison's OT possession featured four consecutive runs by Dom Boseman, the Public League's defending shot put champion. The gains were 5, 1, 1 and 1.

Isaiah Gillman and Jeremiah Bullock combined to stop Boseman on the final play, a right-side rumble on which Boseman broke two early tackles. When the win was assured, with most of the Rams already jumping for joy and Boseman still lying face down in the west end zone, pointing toward Hunting Park Avenue, Bullock slapped him on the back as if to say, "Great effort today, man, but this win is ours."

As the realization of another loss hit him, and with his facemask still making contact with the grass and dirt, Boseman muttered, "Oh, my God."

Much later, as the Owls trudged off the field, with his lips quivering, Boseman said softly, "I'm so upset. I've never felt this disappointed in my life."

He paused, then added, "Can't do anything but get up and go on to the next game. Like we always do. I'm disappointed with the result. Not my school."

Williams has been there, believe him.

"The negative things we hear around school, we just ignore them," he said. "We stay together as a family and work together.

"I thank everyone. The guys who block for me. The guys who catch my passes. The guys on the other side with me, making tackles. And the coaches, who've stayed with us all year."

FitzSimons dressed only 21 players, and only five wore linemen's numbers. In the fourth quarter and OT, No. 11 (Daone Mitchell) played left tackle and No. 82 (Bullock) played right guard. The refs didn't notice or figured this was one time not to nitpick.

Williams finished with 68 yards on 16 carries - two runs totaling 52 yards were wiped out by holding calls - and passed 4-for-12 for 51. Boyer (27 yards) and Steven Pruitt (25 yards) halved four catches, while Pruitt and James Clayton made interceptions.

Clayton's pick came with 1:48 left and he returned the ball 30 yards to Edison's 30. Williams reached the 1 on a 17-yard keeper at 0:10 (sensational diving tackle by Shadeed Purnell) and Williams couldn't quite power into the end zone on a sneak (Justin Matos led the stop-him swarm).

Boseman dropped Lamor Pearson for a 5-yard loss as OT commenced, then Williams underthrew Pruitt on a left-side swing pass. Next, he rolled to his right.

"I knew the defense was going to be on me," he said. "I saw the mismatch with a short cornerback playing Nate. He's got hands and he can jump, and he made a basketball play."

He laughed. "And he does play that. With me."

For Edison, Boseman ran 16 times for 138 yards (72-yard score) and hustled for four tackles worth 40 yards in losses. Joaquin Melendez added three tackles for losses and Eddy Hernandez made a diving interception.

Williams, who lives on Van Pelt Street, footsteps from Murrell Dobbins Tech, has tried hard all season to remain in sunshine mode.

"This being my last year, I wanted to be on a winning team," he said. "It hasn't happened that way, but I love the game of football. It feels good to win after all these losses. Sometimes, especially in the middle of the season, we were killing ourselves."

Luckily, Williams drew deserved recruiting attention by attending an offseason combine in South Carolina.

"I might come from a school with losing football," he said, "but you can't stop talent."