Between The Lines, In The Classroom And Around Campus — There Was Nowhere Charles Williams Didn’t Make An Impact For State Bowl-Champion Marin Catholic
PHOTOS: Bill Schneider/Varsitypix.com
Marin Catholic football coach Mazi Moayed remembers his first impressions when a freshman named Charles Williams joined his program in 2020.
“He was young. He was new to the school, new to the community. A great athlete,” Moayed said. “He was sort of trying to learn the Marin Catholic way. The Wildcat way. He didn’t say too much, but you could see his talent level right away.”
Talent might have served as the initial impression, but what Moayed soon learned was the character of a player who would become something more than just a football star on his Kentfield campus.
While there are plenty of statistics and highlights to back up Williams’ selection as the 2023 SportStars Northern California Player of the Year, the Marin Catholic community might suggest he deserves recognition simply for being himself.
A historic career in Marin Catholic blue came to a close in 2023 with Williams and the Wildcats again atop the California Interscholastic Federation state bowl mountain. The school wrapped up its second state title in three seasons with a 38-18 win over Mayfair-Lakewood in the Division 3-A final held at El Camino College in Torrance.
Williams starred on both sides of the ball all season. As one of the state’s top running backs, he rushed for 1,361 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also added 19 receptions for 418 yards and two more touchdowns.
As a shutdown cornerback, Williams also added a bit of history. He set a school record for interceptions with 11 — not bad considering he moved to the position as a junior, and returned three for touchdowns. If that wasn’t enough, he also returned two punts for scores.
Those stats certainly speak loudly enough, and when it comes to football talent, Moayed can list the characteristics that make Williams unique without needing much time to think.
“I think it’s a combination of a few things,” Moayed said. “One is just his athletic talent and ability. He has such a broad skill set. He can be the best receiver on the field. He can be the best running back. He can throw the ball. He can catch and return punts. He can cover guys. And he can do them all at such a high level. He can come up and smack you. Even though he’s a slim guy, he can come up and put it on you.
“The second thing was his competitiveness. He’s extremely competitive. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing against, be it practice or a game, he’s very competitive and is driven to be the best. He wants to outperform whoever else is out there. And, the third would be instinct. He has an instinct that you can’t teach, and that’s on both sides of the ball.”
But those are the skills that show up between the lines. Ask what happens when no one is watching, and you start to understand what allows a talented individual to turn into the catalyst for a great team.
Greer Arthur has known Williams basically their entire lives, playing football together as kids and eventually joining the Marin Catholic program together. As seniors, Williams lined up at one cornerback spot and Arthur took the other.
So, Arthur can speak a bit to what Williams is like away from the gridiron.
“He’s a very humble guy,” Arthur said. “He’s very fun. He loves to be around people he loves like family and friends, and he holds people close to him very tightly. He really appreciates camaraderie with his family and friends.”
LISTEN: Hear Charles Williams Discuss Marin Catholic’s State Bowl Win On SportStars 7 Friday Night Podcast
As a tandem, Arthur and Williams left opposing coaches a bit befuddled as to how to approach the Marin Catholic pass defense. More often than not, teams decided to continue throwing to Williams’ side.
“It was kind of silent on my side, which was funny because he’s making all these plays and they kept throwing to him,” Arthur said. “It made our whole defense’s job a lot easier, made my job a lot easier, and definitely made me more excited and thrilled when the ball did go my way.”
In the season’s biggest moment, Williams, Arthur and their teammates were ready to take on the fight together. The Wildcats built a big early lead against Mayfair and never looked back, turning their trip to Southern California into a memorable one.
Williams isn’t the self-promoting star. He’s exactly the opposite, praising his teammates and pointing to their contributions whenever asked to explain the team’s success.
But in the state title game, Williams took one moment to let loose a bit of unbridled enthusiasm.
He earned it. The stat line in his final high school game is legendary. He racked up 288 all-purpose yards, grabbed two interceptions, scored on both a run and a reception and contributed multiple big plays as a punt returner.
After the final interception early in the fourth quarter, Williams let loose. He ripped his helmet off and dashed across the track to celebrate in front of the Marin Catholic fans. Arthur joined in the celebration, because at that moment, they knew the state title was coming home to Kentfield.
“Running off the field and going to the crowd, I kind of got fired up, took my helmet off, started yelling at the crowd,” Wiliams said. “My cousin was on the sideline too and also got fired up too because I also broke the record for interceptions. I was pretty fired up and got a little emotional. The emotions kind of took over there.”
The Marin Catholic community shared in the celebration because Williams is an easy guy to celebrate.
Moayed has been there to see every step of the process. Williams practiced with the Wildcats in the COVID-altered 2020 season but didn’t play in games. As a sophomore in 2021, he established himself as one of the region’s top running backs. Over the final two years of his career, he added two-way star to the resume.
“The great part with Charles is, whether it was in the classroom or on the field, you saw a steady improvement in him every single year,” Moayed said. “He improved as a running back. He improved being able to catch the ball. He improved as a blocker. He had a good skill set but it got better and better.
“He played defensive back his last two seasons for us. He didn’t play DB for us right away, and you just saw incremental improvements. He was like that when it came to taking on the rigors of the academic load at Marin Catholic. His study habits continued to get better every single year and his grades continued to climb. That was one thing I saw with him. He just got better everywhere.”
Williams will head to Wyoming in the fall as one of the Cowboys’ most coveted recruits in their 2024 class. When he goes, he’ll leave Marin Catholic as one of the school’s all-time great athletes.
He’ll also leave as a member of the Marin Catholic community that made an impact away from the football field.
“What’s amazing about him and his personality is he can connect with the kicker, he can connect with the linemen, he can connect with the third-stringer as well as the first-stringer,” Moayed said. “He’s so approachable and he’s so inclusive with everybody. Anybody can feel like they can go sit down and have lunch with Charles and feel like they can be themselves.
“He has that type of attitude and personality where everyone’s included and feels comfortable in their own skin around him. That part I’m really going to miss about him. He’s amazing in that way. He’s the superstar on the team and he’s just approachable by all.”
That’s just Williams being himself.