Plenty has changed for the Williams Field High School football team since it opened the 2019 season with two straight losses.
The Black Hawks have since gone on to average over 49 points per game, outscoring opponents 546-213. They jumped up in the 5A rankings, ending the season as the No. 1 overall seed in the conference playoffs and made an argument for being involved in the inaugural Open Division, which pins the best eight teams from the 6A, 5A and 4A conferences against each other in one bracket.
But as of now, the thought of what could have been is behind Williams Field. Now, every player is focused is on bringing a title to the school for the second time in four years.
“At halftime of our second loss we adopted the ‘do your job’ mentality,” Williams Field senior quarterback Mason Bugg said. “We just trusted in one another. This team is special. To win as many games as we have in a row, it’s surreal to be able to do this with the guys I love.”
Led Bugg, Williams Field has dominated opponents through the first three rounds of the playoffs. Heading into the Black Hawks’ semifinal win over Casteel, Bugg had thrown for more than 2,400 yards this season and 27 touchdowns. He’s also rushed for 430 yards and added five more scores on the ground.
Senior running back Kendrix Lurry and sophomore running back Kaden Cloud have combined for over 2,000 yards rushing and 32 touchdowns, giving opposing defenses problems out of the backfield.
The Williams Field defense rivals the 2016 team, which won the 5A championship, in terms of talent. They’re a fast, gritty group led by junior linebacker Carson Speer.
“Our defense has been coming along every week getting better and better,” Williams Field coach Steve Campbell said. “We had to replace a lot of guys but it’s a matter of coming into the season and grow sometimes. Their growth has been a huge part.”
The Dec. 7 championship game will be the Williams Field’s second appearance in season finale in four seasons.
Last year, the Black Hawks made it to the semifinals, but lost a close game to Notre Dame Prep, who fell in the semifinals this season to Campo Verde.
Much like Williams Field’s opponent in the championship game, the football program has wasted little time establishing itself as an East Valley power.
Campbell has coached the Black Hawks to the playoffs every year since their first varsity season in 2008. During that span, Williams Field has appeared in the championship game three times, winning one time in 2016.
This year will mark the Black Hawks’ fourth overall trip to the finals.
“I’m just happy for these kids,” Campbell said. “They faced a little adversity but now we have to continue to get better and focus on a good opponent.”
Winning the title again would be special for the senior class, who were freshman at the time of Williams Field’s first title. Bugg’s older brother, Tre, was a senior defensive back for Williams Field’s championship team. He and the rest of the players know what it will take to accomplish their goal, and they plan to do whatever it takes to end their high school careers on a high note.
Just like the 2016 team.
“Knowing that in two weeks will be my last game as a high school athlete, it’s some security. I will be able to play my heart out for my team without any regrets.”