Male Area Athlete of the Week: Aiktin sophomore finds end zone 5 times
Aitkin sophmore earns Male Area Athlete of the week
Jacob Williams found the end zone a lot last week.
Five times to be exact.
The Aitkin sophomore rushed for 173 yards and four touchdowns on eight carries and also returned a punt 35 yards for a touchdown in the Gobblers’ 73-30 win over Pine City.
“The O-line did really well and things just worked out in our favor,” Williams said. “They had some big boys on their line, but we got past them.”
Williams opened the season with 224 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 18 carries in the Gobblers’ 34-0 win over Crosby-Ironton.
“He’s just got great vision,” Aitkin head coach Alan Hills said. “He really sees running lanes well and those cut-back opportunities. He’s got the speed to finish the run in the end zone anywhere on the field.”
Last season, Williams handled 66 carries for 446 yards and five touchdowns.
“He played a lot for us as a freshman, but I think the most important thing is he spent a lot of time in the weight room this offseason and worked on getting faster and stronger,” Hills said. “He’s always had the ability, but his first step has really improved and just an understanding of what we are trying to do with the ball.”
Against Pine City, Williams opened the scoring for Aitkin with a 6-yard run. He then returned a punt for a score to make it 16-0 Gobblers.
“He’s only had a few opportunities to return punts this year, but he’s made a couple of great cuts back across the field,” Hills said. “His blockers set him up wonderfully, but he’s got a way of making guys miss and as soon as he gets a little bit of daylight that’s a good thing for us.”
Aitkin would score 30 first-quarter points and Williams’ third touchdown would open the scoring for the Gobblers in the second quarter with a 45-yard run.
With 31 seconds left in the half, Williams found the end zone for a fourth time on a 35-yard run which put Aitkin ahead 50-0.
To open the second half, Williams found the end zone for the last time on a 56-yard run.
“The offensive line comes off the ball super fast,” Williams said. “It’s crazy. For big boys, they are really fast, the way they come off the ball.”
He crossed the goal line four times on eight of his carries.
“It obviously gives me a lot of confidence,” Williams said. “But that’s not the best team we will be playing this year.”
Of his five touchdowns, four of them were of 35 or more yards.
“He’s got that game-breaking type of speed, where if he gets a clear lane it’s usually going for a touchdown,” Hills said.
Even with his game-breaking speed, Hills said Williams is a great runner between the tackles.
“Most of his long runs are from the inside and he makes a cut to get himself some space and he’s off and running,” Hills said. “So while he has some speed, he’s a downhill type of runner.”
Williams said watching Gus Sanford, who led the Gobblers in rushing yards last year, has prepared him for more of a workload this year.
“Last year, I watched Gus every day in practice and watched the things he’d do,” Williams said. “The cuts he took and how he would slow up at the line and read the holes he was supposed to take. I’m just trying to do what he did last year.”
Williams said the biggest improvement he’s made from last season is his explosiveness.
“When I hit that hole, I can just take off and no one is catching me,” he said.
In practice, Hills said Williams is becoming more and more of a leader despite being only a sophomore.
“The more success you have the more that stuff kind of falls on you,” Hills said. “He is a hard-working kid and comes to practice every day. He started practicing with us as a scout team guy in eighth grade. But he loves the game and is willing to do what it takes to make him and his teammates better.”
Other notable performances:
Football: Gabe Ridlon, Crosby-Ironton, rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries.
Jaden Schulke, Verndale, rushed for 209 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries. He also caught a 19-yard touchdown pass.
Grant Loge, Pequot Lakes, threw for 352 yards and five touchdowns on 24-of-39 passes.
Riley Larson, Pequot Lakes, caught five passes for 98 yards and three touchdowns.
Cross-Country: Eli Hall, Pequot Lakes, won the Crosslake Invite in 18:00.54
Soccer: Trey Ogren, Lake Region, was the MVP of the St. Francis Tournament with six goals and one assist.
Position: Running back
Highlights: He rushed for 173 yards and four touchdowns on eight carries. He also returned a punt for a touchdown.