Williams ready to apply lessons learned at Waycross Middle
By John Wood
Middle School athletics are about teaching the fundamentals of a sport and for players to find out if they like a sport before the real commitment comes to a varsity program once they enter high school.When you have a varsity program like Ware County High School, middle school football players are having fun while learning that fundamentals are paramount, but athletes can peek at what could be a very memorable future.The middle school players are seeing how Ware County lost in AAAAA state championship to Gainesville, and how this season – but for one loss against Coffee County – the Gators varsity will repeat as Region 3-AAAAA champions would probably be undefeated.Ironically one loss kept Waycross Middle School from reaching the middle school playoffs, and despite a strong season, Tahj Williams doesn’t dwell on the loss but wishes he could have done more to help get his team to the playoffs.Williams, an eighth-grade quarterback at Waycross Middle School, is certainly excited at the prospect of going to Ware County High School next year.“We had a pretty good season this year but we lost a game which kept us from going to the playoffs which hurt but we just have to work harder,” Williams says.
Williams runs the spread offense for Waycross, and if given the choice, he would rather run the ball than throw it. “I love taking the snap, finding the seam and going,” Williams says.His athleticism affords him the opportunity to be just as effective on the defensive side of the ball.“On defense I play three different positions: rover, which is like a strong safety/outside linebacker; safety; and middle linebacker. My favorite position is middle linebacker because I like going in the hole and stopping the runner,” Williams says.
His desire to play linebacker is evident when Williams revealed that his favorite player is recently retired Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.Playing football for Waycross, Williams has learned that even middle school quarterbacks have expectations for success. Williams has also experienced some of his first growing pains in becoming a leader, which is a necessary asset for a successful high school student athlete, especially a quarterback.“My teammates have been really great this year. We have worked hard. I am not able to find openings and run the ball if we don’t block. My teammates always blocked for me and we made tackles on defense,” Williams says.Williams also credits the coaches that he has been fortunate to have that made him a better player and person.
“Starting with Coach Everette Sharp, and Coach Fred King helped me so much I am really grateful to them. They have been trying to make me the best since day one,” Williams says.After football season, Williams trades the gridiron for the mat. He weighs 142 pounds and wrestles in the 150-pound weight class. Wrestling isn’t necessarily a sport you find quarterbacks in, but Williams has gained valuable experience from wrestling that has helped him on the football field.“First of all, wrestling teaches you how to use your body more and the leverage helps with taking and giving hits. It also has taught me to be more physical on the football field, which has helped me more,” Williams says.Though he is not as fast he wants to be Williams runs track for Waycross Middle School in the spring. “Right now I run a 4.8 but I know the [harder] I work, I can keep bringing that time down the older I get,” Williams says.Williams works hard in the classroom the same way he works on the field and the mat. His favorite subject in school is math, which is an asset considering the many uses of numbers and angles in all of the sports in which he competes. Williams wants to be the same type of leader off the field as he has started to progress to on the field.“Sometimes there is a lot of pressure to lead but I have some great teammates…I have to be a good example to my teammates on the field and off the field,” Williams says.Williams’ parents, Thomas Scott and Keisha Taylor, are two of his biggest supporters. Williams has more than half of his eighth-grade year remaining, with wrestling and track season yet to come. When the Georgia heat suddenly increases 20 degrees in one day and the sun takes away the need for Friday night lights, Williams will be going through spring football with Ware County High School.“It will be a big change this spring since I am going to be doing spring ball with the high school, but I am really excited and can’t wait to be the best player and teammate I can be,” Williams says.