HARBOR CITY, Calif. —
As Troy Williams
broke from the huddle and stepped to the line of scrimmage, the then junior quarterback from Narbonne (Harbor City, Calif.)
surveyed the San Pedro defense. The standard 4-3 formation caused little concern. At least initially.
Williams stepped underneath center and noticed a pair of linebackers inching closer. A safety started to make a move in his direction as well. An all-out blitz was headed his way, but it wasn't something one of the nation's top quarterbacks couldn't handle.
After an audible at the line, his 10-yard completion on a slant pattern led to a touchdown drive.
"I have a big target on my back sometimes," said the 6-foot-3, 190-pound senior who is committed to Washington. "It's fine though, I'm used to all of the pressure now."
His ability to deal with pressure, his poise and savvy has not only led to personal triumph but it's helped Narbonne reach regional and national acclaim.
The Gauchos won a Los Angeles City Championship last season and after a 41-0 win over Palos Verdes last week to open the 2012 season, they are No. 3 in the state and 10th nationally in the computer-generated MaxPreps Freeman rankings.
"Troy makes things look easy out there on the field,'' Gauchos coach Manuel Douglas said. "He's a special player. We have a chance to win every game with him on our side.''
Tonight included when they face perennial national power Long Beach Poly (1-1), which has produced more NFL players than any high school in the nation. Last season, Poly escaped with a 19-16 victory over the Gauchos.
"We want to win it all this season,'' Williams said. "There's some hype about us, but we don't worry. Our job is to handle business and the rest will work itself out.''
He's done just that in the past.
As a junior, Williams completed 62 percent of his passes for 3,247 yards and 34 touchdowns. Equally dangerous rushing the ball, he picked up 587 yards on the ground and found the end zone another 11 times.
Williams pulled double duty and served as the punter last season, averaging 39 yards per punt. He placed 10 inside the opponents' 20.
Based on those efforts, his skill set and poise under pressure, he entered this season ranked the 11th best combo quarterback in the nation by CBS MaxPreps recruiting expert Tom Lemming.
"There's not much Williams can't do,'' San Pedro coach Mike Walsh said.
He was impressive from the start.
Williams played a handful of games for the Gauchos as a freshman and showed glimpses of his potential. He assumed the starter's role as a sophomore, completing 63 percent of his passes for 2,597 yards and 23 touchdowns, drawing immediate interest from college coaches and scouts.
Before committing to Washington in June, he had scholarship offers from at least 10 schools nationally, including Pac-12 programs Arizona, Washington State and UCLA. Florida, Georgia Tech and Mississippi also offered him. In the end, the Huskies proved to be the best fit.
Williams insists he is not looking too far ahead.
"I've come along way since being a freshman and I know what to expect now,'' Williams said. "I have learned how to deal with a lot of things playing football. I think I'm at the point where I'm comfortable with everything that is going on in my life, both on and off the field.''
Sean Ceglinsky has covered preps and college sports in Southern California for the better part of the past 15-plus years. Follow him on twitter: @SeanCeglinsky