Noah Williams has become catalyst for BHS football’s dominance in WSL play
The potential was undeniable. For the Basalt High School football coaches, it was about making sure Noah Williams knew what was possible.
“He is a special athlete. I think everyone can see that,” BHS head coach Carl Frerichs said. “He’s just realizing how talented he is and he is running hard. Early in the season he was running hard, but that confidence level has come to another level.”
Williams, a senior transfer at running back, was nothing more than the new guy at the beginning of the season. But over the past three games, he’s become the wrecking ball for a Longhorn team intent on bulldozing its way back to the Class 2A playoffs.
No. 8 Basalt (6-1 overall, 3-0 Western Slope League) plays 7 p.m. Friday at Moffat County (4-3, 3-0). A loss opens the door for Moffat, and possibly Aspen High School (6-1, 2-1), to play spoiler. Moffat and AHS meet in the regular-season finale on Oct. 27 in Aspen.
Should the Longhorns win Friday in Craig, they will clinch the league title for the second-consecutive year. With it comes the league’s automatic playoff spot.
And much of the reason Basalt is in position to control its own fate is how dominant Williams has been over the three WSL games.
“At the beginning of the season, he was running a little tentative and looking for his hole rather than trusting his instincts,” said BHS assistant coach Mitch Levy, who calls the offensive plays. “He’s more of a one cut and go back now, which is exactly what we’ve been trying to work on with him. His natural ability has taken over.”
Learning to run
Through Basalt’s 3-1 start, Williams only rushed for an average of 67.5 yards per game with three combined touchdowns. His best game to that point was 86 yards on 16 carries in a 35-7 win against Delta. A minor injury led to him only playing sparingly Sept. 22 in a 41-33 win against Battle Mountain to close out non-league play.
In the WSL opener Sept. 30 at Steamboat Springs, Williams erupted. In the team’s 48-0 win, Williams recorded 145 yards on only 14 carries with four rushing touchdowns. A week later at then undefeated Aspen, he carried the ball 28 times for 287 yards and six touchdowns.
Last week at home against Coal Ridge, Williams had 142 yards on 11 carries with four more touchdowns.
“It’s just knowing the plays a little more and knowing what I’m going up against,” Williams said. “Once I learned the system and went through it all and became close with the team, I felt the impact and I think I started realizing what I can do and what I should do, and I started doing it.”
Williams transferred to Basalt from Truckee, California, where he was a backup running back for the Class 3A Wolverines. After football season, Williams spent much of the winter ski racing. He said learning how to handle the pressure of being in the start gate was the biggest carryover onto the football field.
Williams moved to the Roaring Fork Valley in December and competed for the BHS track and field team in the spring. He qualified for the 3A state meet in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes.
That speed has been noticeable on the football field this fall.
“Our offensive line does a great job, but you still got to make plays,” Frerichs said. “When he’s getting one-on-one in the hole, he’s breaking and turning those 5, 6 yard plays into 30 yard plays, and big plays in football are what win games.”
Through seven games, Williams has rushed for 844 yards on 107 carries with 17 rushing touchdowns. According to Max Preps, his 844 yards are eighth in 2A, with Coal Ridge senior Jacx Powers topping the list with 1,180 yards. His 17 total touchdowns are tied with Middle Park’s Blake Weimer for most in 2A.
Honoring the big boys
Like any good running back, Williams is willing to give much of the credit to his offensive line.
“Without them, I’m nothing,” he said. “There would be no interview; there would be no touchdowns. It’s the offensive line that gets the touchdowns. I just help them out a little.”
The BHS offensive line — left tackle Tido Ramos, left guard Ryan Borchelt, center Oswaldo Morales, right guard Jake Reuss and right tackle Thomas Wirth — is big, experienced and at the heart of the team’s success this year. Five different Longhorns have rushed for more than 100 yards this season, including junior quarterback Trevor Reuss (140 yards) and junior backup running back Jake Reardon (254 yards).
“Right now our O-line is really in sync, and to watch Noah go off, it helps all of us,” Wirth said. “We take a lot of pride. Whether it’s Noah, Jake or Trevor putting up big numbers, we take pride in making sure our guys behind us stay clean and get big numbers in games.”
See you on Saturday?
Williams said he isn’t paying much attention to his big stats. Sure, they could help him get a scholarship to play collegiately, something he is interested in, but right now all that matters is “just winning games.”
Should college football not work out, Williams said becoming a firefighter would be a satisfactory backup plan. And it’s this mentality that has turned him into one of 2A’s most dominant forces the past three games.
“He doesn’t ride the roller coaster, like we always say,” Levy said. “He doesn’t get too high when he scores and he doesn’t get too down when he doesn’t. That’s a beautiful blend when you are looking for good football players.”
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Strange is a word that will likely define the winter high school sports season. But, after numerous delays and endless doubts, that season is finally here. It will include fewer games, more masks and a lot of empty seats, but adapting to that strangeness is better than the alternative.