Everyone knew of David McWilliams after Week 1 of the high school football season in 2014. He made sure of that with an eye-popping 202 yards and a pair of touchdowns off nine receptions against Grand Junction.
Long before that debut on varsity for the Fairview football team as a sophomore, however, coach Tom McCartney knew he was going to be one of the kids that might reel in headlines for years to come.
“Sometimes you come in as a freshman, and you know about people; Sam Martin was one of those, Cam Frazier,” McCartney said this week after a football practice at Fairview, where he is rounding up the troops for a 23rd season. “David was another one of those guys. All offseason after his freshman year, he was with us (on varsity) doing things.”
McWilliams certainly proved he had a knack for reeling in footballs during the Knights’ run to the Class 5A quarterfinals. Even though opponents caught wind they’d have to pay attention to Tim Ryan, Connor May, Steve D’Epagnier and this “other” younger kid — McWilliams had 52 receptions, 865 yards and most importantly, 10 touchdowns.
Though McWilliams had to take a second look at those opening-game numbers to truly believe them, he had carried confidence over from his time on the freshman team, knowing that he was going to get the chance to be part of an explosive offense.
“My freshman year, I had success, but it was fun to come up as a sophomore and perform at a higher level,” McWilliams said. “I think I showed the coaches I could work during that summer. I was even a little bit surprised at (the Grand Junction game totals), but that really kind of set the bowling ball in motion for my season. It lot of fun.”
You can get away with being an average route-runner with average hands and still get gleaming numbers in the Fairview system — but “average” certainly doesn’t describe McWilliams.
His hands were dependable for Johnny Feauto last year, whether the agile quarterback needed to loft one up for grabs or fire a laser into the numbers over the middle of the field. More so than that, however, McCartney praised McWilliams’ qualities as a “find-the-green” athlete.
That’s something the wide receiver is eager to continue and develop.
“He’s brought things back from all these camps he’s been to, where if he can bring one thing here, one thing there … we’re seeing him taking his game to another level even,” McCartney said. “He understands space and knows how to find grass even in a crowd, just enough of an opening the quarterback needs. You can’t teach that, you only hope they come with that sense.”
“I’ve been working on my hands since I was two, but more recently I’ve been working on route-running quite a bit,” McWilliams said. “I want to pose a threat there, even though I don’t have the greatest speed. I hope to work on blocking, too, to spring TJ (Kebede) and Max (Gelband). I want to bring that to the table.”
In re-loading mode in 2015, Fairview will have a bevy of players in the skill positions who will be looking to carry on the winning ways of the past couple of seasons, in which overall they have gone 23-2.
In addition to McWilliams, classmates Tommy Wakefield, Quinn Sharp and Connor Twist will have expanded roles on the outside, and senior returner Kailash Graham-Bell (6-foot-6, 225 pounds) will increase his workload as a tight end while serving as a starting defensive lineman, too. All five are targets of different shapes and sizes for Thomas Creese, who is being handed the keys to the offense for the first time as a varsity starter.
Creese transferred from Legacy after his sophomore season and backed up Feauto last year. He has anticipated this opportunity for awhile, and with the talent around him, the 6-foot-3 senior is ready to put his stamp on the point-producing juggernaut that the Knights have come to be known by.
“It’s an incredible system, where the quarterback is in charge and has so many opportunities, and I couldn’t be happier,” Creese said. “I love what coach Mac does and I think it’s unmatched.”
Follow Adam on Twitter: twitter.com/AdamDunivan24