Featured image: D’Andre Williams, Enchantment Sports/Galles Metro Football Player of the Year. (Photo by Lee Roy Lucero/Enchantment Sports)
By Mark Smith
Editor in Chief
D’Andre Williams knew the key number was “one.”
Williams had just one game left in his high school career. He and La Cueva were playing the No. 1-ranked Cleveland Storm. Williams actually wears the number on his jersey — twice (No. 11).
And he was counting on his No. 1 performance helping his team finish as the No. 1 team in the Class 6A state football playoffs.
“If you run for 357 yards, I’d say it would pretty much be your best game,” said La Cueva coach Brandon Back. “He had a lot of great games this year. Every once is a while, he would stumble. But he was huge when we needed him.”
Last Saturday (Dec. 1), it was one magical afternoon, indeed for Williams and the Bears. The second-ranked Bears finished 13-0 by whipping previously undefeated and top-ranked Cleveland 33-14 in the 6A state title game.
Now, Williams can another “One” to his stellar season: He is the Enchantment Sports/Galles Metro Football Player of the Year.
“He definitely deserves it,” Back said. “He was really big for us. All of his teammates truly love him. He has a great heart and was a great teammate.”
Back said Williams had 357 yards rushing on 37 carries in that title game. The 6-foot, 170-pound senior running back put the game away with run after a punishing run in the second half.
“I just kept getting my number called, and I just kept running,” Williams told Enchantment Sports. “I had no idea how many yards I had until they told me after the game.
“I was thinking I might have more like 200. I just knew I had to do what we needed to win. It’s hard to explain what that felt like, but it felt great.”
Williams ran for 1,730 yards this season for an average of 140.2, 6.6 a carry while rushing for 18 touchdowns and scoring 21 in all.
“I have to give the credit to my offensive line,” Williams said. “The entire line is a part of this award.”
Back said Williams is really sincere when he talks about the line. “He’s very appreciative of them, and he’s humble about all of his ability.”
Back complemented juniors (LG) Barrett Haemker and right tackle (RT) Eduardo Cuevas and seniors (LG) Ryan Malone, (LT) D.J. McDowell and (RG) Ethan Pearson. Back said Williams also works his tail off in the classroom.
“I fell a little behind academically,” Williams said, “but I’m doing everything I can in classroom. I’m confident that I can graduate in the spring.”
Back said Williams “will probably have to go to a junior college to work on his academic issues” next year, but, “he is absolutely a Division-I talent. He definitely has the desire and the skills.”
LEWIS OH-SO-CLOSE: The difference between Williams and runner-up Dorian Lewis of Cleveland for the award was razor-thin. Lewis was named New Mexico’s Gatorade Player of the Year earlier in the week.
Lewis, a junior, was probably the state’s most dynamic running back and he rushed for 1,583 yards and 20 touchdowns and had 276 yards receiving for four more touchdowns.
But he was injured for the year in the Storm’s ninth game. Even in the game he was injured, he was sensational with 151 yards rushing and two touchdowns on just three carries.
Unfortunately, Lewis missed all of the playoffs after the severe knee injury. Williams helped lead the Bears to a title, which gave Williams the slight nod.
The 2018 weekly winners:
Week 14: Mikey Montoya, Los Lunas, senior safety
Week 13: Jake Deatherage, Volcano Vista, senior quarterback
Week 12: Manny Sanchez-Vargas, Valley, senior quarterback
Week 11: Isaiah Ortiz, Del Norte, sophomore running back
Week 10: Derek Rivera, St. Pius, junior quarterback
Week 9: Marcus Steele, Cibola, senior quarterback
Week 8: Jeff Davison, Cleveland, sophomore quarterback
Week 7: Isaiah Chavez, Rio Rancho, junior quarterback
Week 6: Garrett Moseley, Valley, senior receiver/safety
Week 5: Xavier Ivey-Saud, Manzano, senior running back
Week 4: Vince Quezada, Hope Christian, senior receiver/safety/kicker
Week 3: Dorian Lewis, Cleveland, junior running back
Week 2: Gabe Smith, Eldorado, senior quarterback
Week 1: Diego Casillas, Belen, senior running back
Player of the Year: D’Andre Williams, La Cueva running back
All players receive trophies, made by Santa Fe’s Totally Dazzling, with their names, school and position. The Player of the Year will receiver a special recognition trophy, courtesy of J.C. Lopez (505) 507-4213 and Santa Fe’s Totally Dazzling awards.
Mark Smith has worked in New Mexico sports media for four decades, and is one of the New Mexico’s most decorated sports journalists in history. Smith has won more than 30 combined awards in print, television and radio. He is the editor in chief of Enchantment Sports. Contact him at mark.enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.
To learn more about the Galles Metro Player of the Week, click here.