When the Williams clan moved north from California to develop a regional ice cream distributorship, it would one day become a sweet deal for Mt. Spokane football.
Some two decades later, third-generation family member Colten Williams continues his move up the Greater Spokane League record books as a slot back/receiver in the Wildcats’ spread offense.
Coach Mike McLaughlin calls Williams an “extremely happy-go-lucky kid,” but he’s a deadly serious and hard-working football player.
“I like to hang out and have fun,” Williams said. “It’s sports all the time and football is definitely the primary sport.”
Williams was named Associated Press All-State last year after Mt. Spokane qualified for the State 3A playoffs. He caught 48 passes for 613 yards and scored 118 points in the GSL (plus seven more touchdowns in postseason).
In this, his senior year, Williams has 86 catches for his career, sixth most in GSL history, and 1,074 receiving yards, which is closing in on the top 10.
Talk to him, though, and he says he prefers carrying the football to catching it, which is why he approached McLaughlin after his sophomore season at receiver and asked to move back to slot.
“He seemed to agree,” Williams said.
Not the fastest of backs, Williams still set a team shuttle run record of 7.7 seconds. The records date back to McLaughlin’s prior years as coach at Mead.
“That illustrates his one-step quickness,” McLaughlin said. “He has tremendous 10-yard quickness, is rarely tackled by first contact, has a nose for the goal line and rarely fumbles.”
Last year he gained 496 yards and had two-thirds of his 19 touchdowns rushing. Through last week, Williams has touched the football more than 200 times as a rusher or receiver and compiled nearly 1,800 total yards in GSL games.
His switch from cornerback to safety on defense has also impressed McLaughlin.
“I wasn’t sure how good a tackler he would be,” McLaughlin said. “He’s played very well in the secondary.”
Williams was born in Sacramento, Calif., but has lived here nearly all his life. His grandfather, a regional manager for Dreyer’s Ice Cream at the time, moved to Spokane to build a regional distributorship for nearly all brands of the confection.
His dad, Travis, and uncles followed. Travis said he was an All-Northern California quarterback who set some school records.He got his son involved with tackle football in fourth grade and became his critic.
“I was 20 when he was born and still in a football mode,” Travis said. “Where my mind was was films, and I’d critique him a bit.”
While he admits being hard on his son, Colten picked up football smarts from the film sessions. He developed a knack for the game, good hands and instincts, and has worked hard over the years to become the player he is.
Colten’s drive earned him a starting spot on varsity as a sophomore. He caught 22 passes and averaged nearly 12 yards a reception.
“Even when I was a receiver I paid attention to (slot) Brandon (Jared), so I could be ahead of the running curve,” Williams said. “I told Coach I like to run the ball and he said, ‘Let’s do it.’ ”
McLaughlin wasn’t sure what to expect before last season, but Williams discovered the intangibles that breed success. Joined by new quarterback Travis Ward, with whom he has played since seventh grade, things clicked. The young Wildcats qualified for state by winning twice in postseason.
In a 42-39 victory over Hanford, Williams caught 13 passes for 155 yards and Ward completed 23 of 27 passes for 315 yards.
Playing football in college is among Williams’ goals. But if that doesn’t work out, there’s always the ice cream business to fall back on.
Sweet either way.