Like a blindside hit, Nathan Williams never saw it coming.
The Live Oak High senior was overwhelmed with emotion when he learned that he would be awarded the Dwight Clark Beyond Extraordinary Award during halftime in the 47th annual Charlie Wedemeyer All-Star Football Game on Feb. 5 at Los Gatos High.
Acorns coach Mike Gemo somehow managed to keep the news a secret all the way to its appointed time.
“Coach Gemo didn’t even tell my mom until minutes before halftime,” said Williams, who had an exceptional 2021 senior season and was named the Blossom Valley League Mount Hamilton Division Most Valuable Player. “It was a complete surprise to me.”
The Charlie Wedemeyer Beyond Extraordinary Award is given to an “exceptional athlete with true humility and great God-given talents with courage, compassion and faith.” Williams played running back, linebacker and kicker for the South team that lost to the North team, 15-14.
Prep football all star games are just as physical as regular-season contests, so Williams—who hadn’t played in nearly three months—admitted he was physically taxed during the game.
“I started and kept going into the second quarter, but I was beat up and wasn’t quite used to playing because it had been a long time,” he said. “But I had so much fun. It was a great environment. There were big groups of people standing around the field, and the energy there made you want to jump around. It was insane.”
Williams played with Live Oak teammates Aaron Parra and Keelan Echauri, with Parra playing linebacker and Echauri cornerback. Williams was completely blind-sided by the news he would be the recipient of the Dwight Clark award during the halftime festivities.
“I was just so grateful to be chosen for the award,” he said. “It’s a big part of the game and it meant a lot, especially for how hard I’ve worked. I was just super happy. I truly didn’t know how to react, and it was a great feeling.”
Williams had a nice conversation at halftime with Lucy Wedemeyer, the widow of the late Charlie Wedemeyer.
“It was great. I got to thank her and tell her the award meant so much to me,” Williams said. “Of course, we started off talking about football, and she said she’s really looking forward to what I’m going to be doing in the future and what I can do on and off the field and how great of a man I can be in the future.”
Williams watched the Wedemeyer Game when he was a freshman and hoped to be a player in the game when he was senior. He made new friends at the event and got to suit up one last time as a high schooler with teammates Echauri and Parra.
“It was a feeling of excitement and joy because we were playing our last game together,” Williams said. “To finish it out like that was great.”
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected] and (831) 886-0471, ext. 3958.