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Hard hitting cornerback pushing through for Tigers

Corey Williams fights through injuries to be among BA leading tacklers

Arrowvision photo by Shaun Hill

Corey Williams zeroed in on the Bulldog ball carrier, lowered his shoulder and completed the tackle. The Broken Arrow Tiger cornerback felt a twinge in his shoulder.

“I gotta get up. I gotta push through this.”

Those thoughts raced around is head as much as the pain pulsated through his shoulder. He slowly stood. Raised his arm. His elbow bent at a 45-degree angle, he rotated the arm in a backwards direction. Hearing a slight pop in the joint, he adjusted his shoulder pad. There was no grimace. It was time for the next play.

Like other instances the BAHS senior has endured as a teenager, this discomfort he kept to himself.

“I don’t want anybody showing any sympathy,” Williams said. “If I tell them stuff like that, they would treat me totally different. I don’t want that. I want them to look at me like a kid who just wants to play football and have fun. That’s it.”

The “stuff,” that is far from fun, has shaped Williams into the person and player he is.

“He may be as tough a kid as we have on the team,” Tiger head coach David Alexander said. 

The summer before his sophomore year, Williams lost his father.

“My pops, when he passed, it was like ‘bro, you gotta tighten up,’” Williams said. “Actually, I knew I had to focus up and do my thing. It was a reality check to me.”

His “focus” didn’t become clear in an instant. Williams admits to dealing with anger issues. He had a falling out with the coaching staff at Choctaw.

“I didn’t want to listen to anybody,” he said. “I wasn’t a coachable player. I didn’t want to listen to the coaches. I was talking back.”

Williams, who lived in Broken Arrow through middle school, and his mother moved back to BA. Williams, who was a “cruise through life kid,” worked through his anger issues and did “focus up.” He credits his mother’s for being a “good source of positivity,” that him manage his anger and his grief.

“In the process of me moving down here I was thinking about what happened at Choctaw,” he said. “It was ignorant of me to do that. I tightened up. Listened to my coaches. Started doing what I had to do in class.”

Now, the only demon from the William’s football past that is a constant apparition is one from a season ago. In the state semifinals, Broken Arrow had closed to within eight, 35-27, of Owasso. A defensive stop and the Tigers would have a chance to tie the game. Williams shared his memory.

“I moved over. Nobody was on my side, so I shifted over toward the safety position. The tight end ran right at me and ran a little nine-yard out. They threw it to him for a touchdown. That play still haunts me till this day. If I would have just adjusted my feet a little bit more it would have been a pick. He caught it for a touchdown and it changed the momentum of the game.  I can still picture it in my head.”

The 71-yard catch and run resulted in the 42-27 final and ended Broken Arrow’s hope of a second consecutive Class 6A state championship.

Asked if it’s still motivation, the answer was obvious. “Definitely.”

Alexander sees the drive in his cornerback who has 31 tackles, an interception, a fumble recovery, two forced fumbles and a blocked kick.

“Corey has played such great football every game,” Alexander said. “Corey didn’t practice at all last week because of a sore knee, and he’s playing with a shoulder harness. If he would have been 100 percent healthy this would have been a great game for him to play safety, because the corners were hardly involved in the run game. He’s just so beat up. We knew that at corner he would be where he was supposed to be and do his job.”

Williams won’t openly discuss his hurts – those on the inside and out. Those, he keeps locked away. He will talk about, and display, what he loves about football, though.

“I come down hill,” he said. “I like to hit. That’s where my mentality is.”

Sounds like a kid that has gotten up and is pushing through…on and off the field.