FULTON — Josh Williams always has been an integral part of his football teams and always has led by example.
Now a freshman at Itawamba Community College, the former Aberdeen High School standout is trying to find a new way to lead.
“This is a totally different game,” Williams said. “It’s unique when you are used to playing and being out there for every snap in a game. As a quarterback, you are naturally the leader. I have always taken pride in being a leader. You can lead even when you aren’t starting. Right now I am trying to take it all in and learn a little more every day. You can still be a leader while you are learning.”
Williams and the rest of the Indians will play host to No. 10 Northwest Mississippi C.C. at 7 p.m. Thursday in a Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges North Division matchup at Eaton Field. The game will be Military Appreciation Night.
ICC (2-1) is coming off a 40-14 win at Holmes C.C. on Thursday night. Northwest is 3-0 and 1-0 in division play.
“Our offense is really strong,” Williams said. “We have a quarterback that is now used to the system. That will be a big thing. Our receiving corps is very good. We have a real good attitude. I think that can carry us a long way.”
Former Greenwood High School standout Kwadra Griggs is a two-year sophomore starter at quarterback. He has thrown for 529 yards and five touchdowns this season. Former South Panola standout Rip Kirk is running the second-team offense and has thrown three passes and has appeared in all three games.
Williams is spending a lot of time with Griggs while waiting for his chance.
“It’s a learning process,” Williams said. “I am taking it one day at a time and learning as much as I can. I am ready for when my shot comes. The coaches have said they will change some of the game plan since I am one of the better runners. It is exciting to see the opportunity that lies ahead.
“The biggest thing I have learned in my time here so far is how fast the game is. That and I have learned how to pay more attention to detail when watching film. (Griggs) has helped me a lot with that. He has helped me become more of a complete player.”
Williams’ work ethic has impressed ICC second-year coach Sean Cannon. He also has been impressed with Williams’ speed and play-making ability.
“His high school film did not do justice to how quick Josh really is,” Cannon said. “We have worked real hard to find a way to fit him into our offense. We want to see how many things he can do. He is a hard worker, and even though he is new to the program, he sets a standard with his attitude.”
At Aberdeen High, Williams led the Bulldogs to a 28-13 record as a three-year starter at quarterback. In his senior season, Aberdeen finished 10-4 and advanced to the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 3A North State semifinals. He also earned Mississippi Association of Coaches All-State honors after throwing for 2,492 yards and 21 touchdowns. He rushed for 891 yards and 19 touchdowns.
At ICC, Williams has found he isn’t the only one with a gaudy high school resume.
“That is what makes this fun,” Williams said. “The coaches talk every day about competition. The word compete comes out of their mouths at least a dozen times. Here you aren’t the strongest guy like you were in high school. It’s totally different. You have to be able to take coaching. You have to be able to go 100 percent on every play.
“You got to compete every day in practice. The other teams has guys fighting for Division I offers. You are doing the same thing, so both of you are trying to get to the same place. That is what makes this exciting. You are surrounded with a bunch of guys who were really good in high school, as well. It’s a new challenge. It’s a new team. You are on your own for the first time and you are really learning so many things about life.”
With 26 sophomores on the roster, Williams has found several teachers. ICC is trying to make the postseason for the first time since 2013. However, the competition will be fierce. Northwest and No. 7 East Mississippi C.C. are division rivals in the national top 10. ICC will play EMCC on Sept. 26 in Scooba.
“We have a great opportunity that lies ahead,” Williams said. “I am just happy to be a part of this team. The coaches talk about competition every day. That is what makes you great. You realize you aren’t in high school anymore. You can’t cry about what you lose if you don’t work hard enough for it.”
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.