PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Williams paces Rogers in record night

Rogers quarterback Dane Williams made a smooth transition from safety to quarterback over the summer and is doing well at the helm of the offense. Williams said he always wanted to play quarterback but had to wait for his opportunity to do so. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)

The best players often play best in the biggest games.

The was the result Friday when Rogers and Fort Smith Southside met in a 7A-West Conference opener pitting 3-0 teams. Rogers emerged a 44-38 winner behind the play of senior quarterback Dane Williams, who completed 26 of 44 passes for 480 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Williams’ performance was especially impressive considering he accepted an extra load on offense after Rogers running backs Jacob Jenkins and Isaac Chapman were both injured. Williams responded by setting a Rogers single-game school record with 480 passing yards and by leading the team with 37 yards rushing, including a 17-yard gain that led to a touchdown.

For his effort, Williams is the both the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and NWA Democrat-Gazette Player of the Week.

“We basically put the game on his shoulder and he did an outstanding job with his decision-making and passing accuracy,” Rogers Coach Chad Harbison said. “He spread the ball out to seven different receivers with five different receivers catching touchdowns. Dane’s hard work and commitment to improving is really starting to pay off. He has played very well through our first four games” Southside refused to go down quietly after falling behind 38-24 on its home field. The Mavericks rallied and tied the game 38-38 in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard run by Carter Zimmerman. Undaunted, Rogers went back to work quickly on offense and scored when Jeff Regan took a screen pass from Williams and went 65 yards down the sideline for a final touchdown.

“We know what to do in those situations,” Williams said. “We knew we had to execute. We had that play earlier [and] we saved it for the end to put it away.” Rogers will meet another 4-0 team when the Mounties face Fayetteville on Friday at Harmon Field. Fayetteville stayed unbeaten with a 56-21 victory at Bentonville West.

The game will feature two of the best quarterbacks in the league in Williams and University of Minnesota commit Drake Lindsey, who passed for 437 yards and six touchdowns, including five to Jaison DeLamar, in the win over West.