LEWISVILLE, TEXAS -- It wasn't pretty, but on Friday night at Hebron High School, the Allen (TX) Eagles earned at least a share of a district championship.
Entering the season, expectations were high for the Eagles. Led by 2,000-yard rusher Jonathan Williams and Alabama-bound quarterback Alec Morris, national rankings at Allen as high as third in the country. However, injuries to Wiliams put the brunt of that burden on the right arm of Morris.
Nine games later, the Eagles are still undefeated. Williams, who has played through back and foot injuries that caused him to miss three games, is finally getting his legs under him for the playoffs.
On Friday, Williams provided a second-half spark in a come-from-behind victory over the Hawks.
The foot injury held Williams out of practice during the week leading up to the Hebron game, and Allen's coaching staff held him out of the first half of the game. Midway through the third quarter, Allen trailed 21-7. From then on, Williams did the heavy lifting, bullying and bruising his way to 89 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.
"They tried to hold me out a little bit with the playoffs (approaching)," Williams said. "They needed me, so I got out there."
In between, Allen's defense shut down the Hawks, overcoming two Morris interceptions -- including one that was returned 80 yards for a touchdown by Hebron safety Jamal Adams, a sophomore. When Williams plunged his way into the endzone with under ninety seconds left, there was little doubt that the Eagles would hold on to win, 28-21.
"Our defense is good," Wiliams said. "Every now and then, we start of slow, but when our defense is on, they're on."
One more win separates Allen from an undefeated regular season and sole possession of a district championship. While the season hasn't gone completely as expected, Allen's main goal is still intact.
The path to a state championship remains clear.
Likewise, nothing has gone as planned for Williams' Texas swan song. After rushing for over 2,000 yards as a junior, those injuries have held Williams to under 800 yards rushing through nine games. Off the field, an early commitment to Missouri in April was supposed to allow him to focus on his senior year.
However, Williams has since re-opened his recruitment. Although he said he still considers himself a "soft verbal" to the Tigers, Williams officially visited Arkansas at the end of September, and said he won't finalize his college destination until after his official visit to Missouri, which should come sometime in December or January, depending on how far his team goes in the playoffs.
"It was a school I was pretty interested in," Williams said about Arkansas. "When I committed to Missouri, it was between them and Arkansas."
Williams' parents wanted him to take a few more visits to be sure about his early decision. The visit to Arkansas went well, and since then, the Razorbacks have been at the top of his list, joining the Tigers.
The added intrigue in his recruitment has been tough on Williams. Now, Missouri's coaching staff is trying to convince Williams that Columbia is the right destination.
"This isn't me trying to be unloyal to them," Williams said. "I don't want them to think I'm going about this in a selfish way. They're trying to help me out and tell me all the good things about their school, showing me why I committed there in the first place."
So many of Allen's 2011 games have come down to the wire. So too, it seems, will Williams' recruitment.
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