Big Walnut Roundup: Caden Williams pounding defenses on ground

SCOTT GERFEN
ThisWeekSPORTS.com
Big Walnut’s Caden Williams looks for running room after getting past Dom Boeriu of Delaware during the opener on Aug. 28. Williams, a senior in his first season as the starting tailback, rushed for 398 yards while playing in three of the first four games for the Golden Eagles, who were 3-1 before playing Westerville North on Sept. 25. Williams missed the Sept. 11 game against Franklin Heights because of an injury.

Caden Williams of the Big Walnut football team had a big smile on his face following a preseason workout and discussion with first-year coach Rob Page. 

“He said, ‘From what I’ve seen, it looks like you’re going to be my tailback,’ ” Williams said. “It was definitely a mutual thing.” 

After playing defensive end and linebacker the past two seasons, the senior has comfortably settled into a new role that he has longed to play at the varsity level – and he’s made the most of the opportunity. 

Through four contests, Williams has led the Golden Eagles’ running game, with 398 yards on 83 carries. He was held out of a 35-6 victory over Franklin Heights on Sept. 11 because of an injury. 

But a week later in a 31-0 win over Worthington Kilbourne, he came back strong, rushing 37 times for 169 yards and three touchdowns as Big Walnut improved to 3-1 overall and in the OCC-Capital Division. 

The Golden Eagles travel to Dublin Scioto on Friday, Oct. 2, following their game at Westerville North on Sept. 25. 

Page has been getting exactly what he expected from Williams in the backfield. 

“His ability to get downhill on you in a hurry is one of his strengths,” Page said. “He’s not afraid to get those hard yards. Once contact is made, he’s going to drive his legs. Those are really underrated things for a running back, and it puts you in a positive position when second-and-8 becomes second-and-6.” 

But not everything has come easily this season for Williams under a new offense guided by senior third-year starting quarterback Jagger Barnett, who had completed 56 of 85 passes for 631 yards and seven touchdowns through four games. 

Williams admits he was surprised when Page told the running backs they’d need to get a pair of receiving gloves. 

Before playing North, he had three catches for 42 yards. 

“Coming through the program, Big Walnut traditionally has been a team with the power run and one that doesn’t throw a lot, especially not to a running back, so I never got a chance to develop the skill,” Williams said. “I see it as another opportunity where I can catch the ball and see what I can do in the open field.” 

Which is where Williams feels most at home, taking on defenders with his aggressive and physical play. 

As a defensive player, he knows just how demoralizing a running back can be for a defense when an offense gets its running game rolling. 

“It is one of the most demoralizing things when they just keep pounding on you and there’s nothing you can do about it,” he said. 

Williams likes to lead by example, saying he would “never ask his teammates to do anything he wouldn’t do.” 

Page said Williams sets the standard. 

“He holds other people accountable, which can really be tough to do with your peers, but he’s not afraid of doing that,” Page said. “He’s just done a good job with leadership.” 

Girls runners place fourth at Newark 

In a race that can serve as a gauge for the postseason, the girls cross country team finished fourth (119) in the 12-team Newark Invitational on Sept. 19 behind Pickerington North (70), Marysville (78) and Pickerington Central (82). 

Big Walnut finished the race with 10 runners who produced their best times. 

Scoring for the Golden Eagles were Madi Yano (15th, 21:06), Grace Grune-wald (17th, 21:12), Emma Kelly (24th, 21:37), Gianna Rose-Romosier (31st, 21:56) and Kaylyn Huber (32nd, 21:57). 

Volleyball team in OCC title race 

The girls volleyball team remained in the race for the OCC-Capital title at 5-2 following a 25-23, 25-13, 25-12 setback against Delaware on Sept. 22. 

Big Walnut was 5-8 overall before facing Westerville South on Sept. 24. 

OCC-Capital leader Kilbourne was 11-1 overall and 7-1 in the league before playing Scioto on Sept. 24. 

The Golden Eagles went unbeaten in the OCC-Capital (10-0) last season, capturing their 16th league title in 20 seasons. 

Through 13 matches, junior Caroline Speelman was leading the offense, with a team-best 109 kills, followed by freshman Teagon Ng (46), senior Olivia Pollock (46) and junior Andie Stewart (44). 

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