Flipping the Script: A Poised Frankie Williams Helps Lead RBC to the Non-Public B Title
EAST RUTHERFORD – Red Bank Catholic junior quarterback Frankie Williams had not watched the film of last year’s disappointing loss to DePaul in the NJSIAA Non-Public B final until just a few days before Tuesday night’s rematch.
“I got to it this week,” Williams said. “It was tough watching it. It makes you want it even more.”
Williams finished 7-for-17 passing for 53 yards last year as a sophomore under the bright lights at MetLife Stadium, just missing a few throws that could’ve swung the game in a 19-17 loss to the Spartans.
The Caseys junior made all that seem like a distant memory on Tuesday night back at MetLife Stadium when he made crucial plays under pressure that backed up a dominant defensive performance in RBC's 14-7 win over DePaul. He finished 5-for-7 passing for 61 yards and two touchdowns, all in the first half, before RBC stuck with the run game and defense to bring home its second Non-Public B title in the last three seasons.
“Definitely more poised,” senior running back Luke Wassef said about Williams. “He’s not rushing to get out of the pocket. He takes his time, sees the open man down the field even if he’s going to get hit. He puts his body on the line. He’s a great quarterback.”
“I felt that I was more poised in the pocket, and I made better plays on my feet,” Williams said.
The numbers obviously weren’t eye-popping, but it was how and when those yards were accumulated that were the important part. He wasn’t rushing throws, getting sped up with his footwork or bailing from the pocket too early like he did in the championship game as a sophomore.
“Frankie was really on today,” senior two-way lineman Lorenzo Portella said. “He took his time in the pocket. He played really well.”
After DePaul scored on the opening possession to take a 7-0 lead, Williams answered with a 24-yard touchdown throw over the middle to star receiver Emanuel Ross to cap a 5-play, 79-yard drive for an immediate answer.
“Throwing to Ross, it’s bread and butter,” Williams said. “That was a huge confidence-booster. It definitely takes some stress off your shoulders just getting that first one in there. It makes everything smoother.”
“That (touchdown pass) just kind of got us going, and it was a good counterpunch because they came out and had a good drive,” RBC head coach Mike Lange said.
On the Caseys’ next drive, they marched 72 yards on 12 plays to take the lead for good. Williams scrambled for 14 yards on 3rd-and-10 and then juked two defenders on a 9-yard run for another first down on third-and-long. A pinpoint pass on a slant to Ross drew a pass interference call on third down for another crucial first down.
Williams then capped the drive by rolling to his right and finding a wide-open Wassef for a 12-yard touchdown pass. The threat of Williams running stranded a DePaul defender in no-man's land and Williams lobbed the pass right over his head to Wassef for a 14-7 lead.
“We knew it was play action so I said, ‘He’s going to peel off me, I’m going out to the end zone,’” Wassef said. “I said if it’s there, throw it. He made the play, he scrambled, the guy came up. It was perfect.”
That turned out to be enough as the Caseys only attempted one pass in the second half, trying to eat the clock with their running game and playing to a defense that only allowed 193 total yards to a team averaging 28 points a game.
“Even the little things at the end, we’re trying to run the clock and you see he’s managing,” Lange said about Williams. “That’s what happens when you have a starter for two years. He just learned as he went. Nothing rattles him. I’m glad he’s back (next year).”
Williams did what needed to be done for a team that finished 10-1 and ranked No. 1 in the Shore Conference. When he needed to play mistake-free, efficient football to beat DePaul in a low-scoring slugfest, he did it. When he needed to put the team on his back and throw for 294 yards and three touchdowns while leading the drive of the year with a minute left in regulation to beat Group 5 champion Toms River North, he delivered.
“I’m proud of him,” Ross said. “He’s really matured and advanced his game. He’s a baller, and he got it done tonight.”
“We put a lot of trust in Frankie,” Wassef said. “We put all our faith in him, and he delivered today.”
Williams, who has an offer from Maryland and interest from Duke and Virginia Tech, finished the season with 1,658 yards passing and 21 touchdowns against only three interceptions while also running for 463 yards and three touchdowns.
He was on the field to take a knee after RBC’s last defensive stand turned over DePaul on downs to kick off the celebration.
“It’s a surreal feeling,” he said. “Last year coming out here and losing, it leaves a sour taste in your mouth. Everyone on the team worked their butts off, and we came out with a ‘W.’”
This is one film he won’t be waiting a year to watch.
“It’s the perfect season,” he said before smiling.