Paola High School football has had a lot of success over the years and its no secret as the school has 42 playoff wins in 25 appearances in the state playoffs since the modern playoff era began in 1969. The Panthers, led by head coach Mike Dumpert, went 11-1 last season and return eight total starting spots from last season.
One of those returning starters is senior quarterback and safety Garrett Williams. Williams, who stands 6-foot-0 and weighs 185-pounds, is back for his third year as a starter on both sides of the football. He is looking to be one of the best players in 4A football for the 2020 season.
Williams rushed for 750 yards and passed for 750 yards in 10 games last year despite missing three games to a collarbone injury. He combined for 25 total touchdowns in those 10 games.
Williams has great strength and explosiveness at the quarterback position. He has a 245-bench, 425-squat and 245-clean. He also has 4.5 handheld speed in the 40-yard dash. Williams is seeing looks in both football and baseball at the next level but is currently undecided on his future. He earned all-state honors in baseball as a sophomore but didn’t have a season this last spring due to COVID-19. He plans to major in engineering in college and has a 4.0 GPA. He listed math as his favorite subject at Paola HS.
The Panthers have big expectations this year and expect to get deep into the playoffs. Williams feels his team can get another deep run. Williams expects Carter Stanchfield and Damarius Basset to have big years up-front for the Panthers. He also expects big years out of Brock Pitzer, Fletcher Aude, Isaac Meyers, Jovanni Blackie and Bo Robison. The lone loss last season came to the hand of six-time defending 4A/4A-I champion Miege.
We caught up with the all-state hopeful below in the latest Q&A edition of Faces in Kansas.
Q&A w/ Williams
How did you get Involved in football?
I have been involved in football my whole life. My dad played football collegiately so the game has always been around our family. He first introduced me to the game in 4th grade and I have been in love with it ever since.
What are your goals this season?
My goal this season is to lead my team to another deep playoff run and another great season. We lost in the sub state game last year and we felt like that wasn’t good enough. Getting to play late in the season has a special feel to it when you’re one of the few teams in the state still playing.
Do you guys have a shot to make a run this year?
We absolutely have a shot to make a great run this year. We lost a lot of good seniors last year but we also reloaded with a very good senior class. We also have some good younger talent that will step up and help. I feel like our group of guys is as good as any in the state.
What makes you such a force as a player?
What makes me a force in this game is my competitive edge and hunger for success. I feel like when the tough gets going is when I really get going as well. I like the more competitive games of the season and love playing good competition. I also feel like my leadership skills help to bring my team together to fight for one common goal.
What’s the atmosphere like to play football on Friday night for your school and
Playing on a cool night in Paola is unbeatable. The town of Paola has a great football tradition. Everyone in the town rallies behind the team which creates great energy all throughout. Greatness is the expectation in Paola so it is always fun to live up to those standards.
For anyone that hasn’t seen one of your games, why come to one?
Coming to one of my games would show that person truly how much the game of football means to me. Every time I'm on that field I give it my all because I know how soon it will be taken away from me. They're going to see a kid who genuinely enjoys what he's doing while he's out there playing.
Who are other key players on your team?
It is very hard picking out just a few names because everyone on this team is just as important as another. Speaking in terms of production, however, the entire offensive and defensive line should be named. Carter Stanchfield and Damarius Basset are two of the seniors leading the way. In the backfield we have multiple guys like: Brock Pitzer, Fletcher Aude, Isaac Meyers, Jovanni Blackie and of course Bo Robison to throw it to.
Favorite thing about football?
What I love about football is the physicality of the game. Every single play you can make something happen just with your effort. If you mess up on one play you can pick yourself up and make soothing happen the next.
Do you play any other sports, tell us about that, what other positions do you play?
Along with football I also play baseball and basketball. I am a shooting guard on the basketball team. Baseball is my other main sport where I am a pitcher and center fielder. I love being able to play multiple sports in high school.
What is it like to play for your coach?
Playing under coach Dumpert has always been a good experience. I love his passion for football and energy he brings to the game. He comes everyday ready to make us better football players and even better people.
What did you and the team do in the off-season to become better?
At Paola the offseason grind is expected. We lift and condition almost every day during the summer. We also ran routes and played 7 on 7’s to get back in the football swing of things. This year was different with the pandemic and being able to scrimmage other teams.
What interest are you seeing at the next level and what are your plans?
I have gotten interest from many D2 and NAIA schools for football and I have also received some looks from bigger schools on the baseball side of things. At this point I am undecided on what I am going to do but I look forward to competing at the next level and majoring in engineering.
Favorite thing to do when you aren’t playing sports?
Sports take up a majority of my interest but I have a few other hobbies, mainly outdoors. I love going to the lake and spending time with my family and I also like to go fishing, hunting, and working out.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I see myself out of school with a good career in engineering. I hope I am pretty well off so I can begin to start a family and enjoy a happy lifestyle.
Favorite subject in school, what type of student are you, GPA?
My best subject in school has always been math. I like the way numbers work and the practical side of them. I have always been a good student in school with a 4.0 GPA.
Who is your role model?
My role model is my dad. He works very hard for our family and does everything he possibly can to make me and my two sisters lives as good and easy as possible. I can also attribute most of my athletic success to him as he has done a lot of my coaching growing up.
Best place to eat in your town or the surrounding area?
The best place to eat in Paola is definitely El Potro. It is a Mexican cafe right in the middle of town that everyone knows and loves.
One thing the average person wouldn’t know about you?
Being that I love the lake life I am actually a pretty decent water skier and am even starting to get into barefoot skiing.
Anything else to add?
I’d like to throw in how thankful I am for my parents and grandparents for giving me all they have. They refuse to miss any of my games no matter the situation, even my 93-year-old grandpa!
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