I have played football since I was six years old. I started out as a Jr. Pee-Wee playing football for the Enterprise Eagles, which was an organization that prepared youth for jr. and high school football.
It was always a dream of mine to play for the high school I just recently graduated from. I have always wanted to be an Enterprise Hornet, which is the name of the school I attended the past four years in Redding, California.
I had a teammate there that I have known since I was seven. His name was James Williams. I have played baseball and football with him since we were kids and we have always been close friends.
Last year in a scrimmage he injured his knee, which sidelined him the first two weeks of the season. We ended up going 1-1 in those two games while he was absent, but the team didn't play well in either game
When we got him back we destroyed our next three opponents, defeating Anderson 31-0 for the second straight year, then shocked the defending section champion Foothill Cougars, also ending their fifteen game winning streak, along with defeating the Red Bluff Spartans on homecoming night.
During that Foothill game, we were up 17-6 before halftime. James picked up a fumble and returned it 72 yards for a touchdown, sucking any hope of energy Foothill had. His knee seemed to be ok at that point.
After we got tripped up down in Chico, losing to the Pleasant Valley Vikings 35-7, we re-grouped and shocked the section by winning the prestigious event known as the River Bowl.
The River Bowl is a huge event in Redding in which crosstown rivals Shasta High School and Enterprise High School square off.
After Shasta upset Enterprise in 2007, the Hornets wanted revenge.
Trailing 28-17 with 30 seconds left before halftime, James showed his knee was holding up just fine, by intercepting the ball to prevent Shasta from going up on us 35-17, which could have been the icing on the cake for a young team such as us.
At halftime we were still breathing, and I had all the confidence in the world we would come back and earn our bowl back.
In the 4th quarter we were up 31-28, our quarterback Anthony Williams, James' twin brother, threw a pass to James, which fell incomplete. Afterwards James was on the ground for a few minutes favoring his knee.
He later got up and played through it, and we won in the last 30 seconds as we trailed 35-31. Anthony Williams handed off to fullback Chace Taylor and the 6 foot 2 200 pound Senior muscled his way into the end-zone to hand us our 13th River Bowl Victory in the 16 that have been played since 1993.
When we got down to Chico two weeks later, this time to play the Chico Panthers on Halloween night, we needed James to come through for us again. We trailed 12-0 at halftime and were battling for a league championship.
A win meant we hosted a league championship game the following week against the Paradise Bobcats.
We got the score to 12-7 and eventually with 2 minutes left, Anthony hit brother James Williams as he dove for the game winning touchdown, and the catch that got us into a league championship battle with the much hated Paradise Bobcats.
James Williams, who was at the time just a Junior, and not fully healthy, continued to save our season.
We were up 14-7 at halftime at home and confident we could steal the EAL Championship and get the first seed throughout the Northern Section Division One, playoffs, but we ended up playing poorly in the second half, and lost the EAL title 31-19, dropping from possibly being first in the section to the fourth seed in the playoffs, which had us in a rematch with our other rivals to the east, the Foothill Cougars.
The playoff game went down as the one of the best California football games in history. It was such a back and forth game through the entire 48 minutes of regulation. Foothill led 21-7 at the end of the first quarter, and Hornet fans were anxious in the crowd, thinking Foothill could upset there beloved Hornets in front of them on that November evening.
We ended up coming back and tied the game at 21, but we both kept going back and forth. We led 41-34 with just a minute to play in regulation.
Foothill marched down the field to score a late touchdown, once again silencing the Hornets nest, and the next question was do they go for the 2-point conversion and the win. Coach Hamilton of Foothill agreed that they should, and went for the win.
Marcial Lawson got the hand off, but was wrapped up by guess who, James Williams at the one yard line, once again saving the Enterprise Hornets.
The following week we found ourselves in a rematch with the Paradise Bobcats, and a win meant a River Bowl rematch with Shasta, which would be the biggest Section Championship game in the history of the state, possibly the nation.
My football career with Enterprise ended that night, after being tied 21-21 in the 4th quarter, we couldn't handle Paradise late in the game, and let our season, and for us Seniors, our careers slip away.
After football was over, James decided to sit out the first part of basketball season. They didn't do so well while he was on the bench, but he came back after his surgery and helped them get to the State Semi-Final game.
After basketball season ended, he decided to compete in track, and ended up breaking a few records, but also tearing a few parts in his knee, again.
Now that track is over, he has came to the conclusion that his knee is not ready for football season.
Some people think his knee is fine, but in my opinion, he knows his own knee better than anyone else.
As his friend, I support his decision to do whatever he wants.
His health should be his first priority, and it seems like some people in our community are knocking on him for being concerned about himself and his safety.
This kid has a bright future, we all know it, but if he keeps wearing his knee out, his future could go down the drain.
I just don't understand how some people can be so selfish, and want a 16 year old kid to risk his whole future for a few wins. There's more to life then sports.
Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely love football, and love Enterprise High School, and want to see them succeed just as bad as anyone. I will always have room in my heart for the Hornets.
It's just some Hornet fans need to understand, the health of a person is more important than him going out and ruining his knee and his life for their own personal greed of a complete football team.
There are mottoes we were taught at Enterprise. "No Excuses" and "Rebuild? Hell no, Reload." That's what Enterprise should do, if they can do that, they'll contend for a championship again.
Good luck Hornets, and please for the love of god Hornet fans, leave James Williams alone. For as much as he has done for us the past years, he deserves to make choices for himself.
If you call yourself a fan that supports your team, support him and respect his decision.