Caleb Williams isn’t shy about sharing why he picked to attend and play football for Gonzaga College High School over other area powerhouses.
“I’ve had a goal that I’ve had for about, say, seven years now: Stanford, I want to go there,” said Williams, the Eagles’ 6-foot freshman quarterback. “That’s my number one choice, if I ever get that chance. I came [to Gonzaga] for the academics and the coaching and just the football program. I feel like it gives me the best chance on getting there.”
That’s not a shabby goal to set for yourself at the age of 7. Stanford has produced 10 NFL starting quarterbacks over the years, including Hall of Famer, John Elway, and Andrew Luck, who stars for the Indianapolis Colts. Not to mention, Stanford’s acceptance rate is a mere 5 percent.
“That’s my dream,” Williams said. “I’ve just been pushing, working, learning the playbook, studying, putting the extra work in with my coaches.”
Whatever work he’s put in, it’s paying serious dividends, as Williams now starts under center — not on junior varsity — but with the big boys in one of the toughest conferences nationally: The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.
“It’s rare. It’s rare,” Gonzaga coach Randy Trivers said of a freshman quarterback starting in the WCAC. “He’s done just a great job in training camp of really grasping and learning the offense. He has good command out there.”
Williams made his varsity debut on Saturday after at Gilman in Baltimore. He finished with 140 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns on 6-for-11 passing. Williams added 16 yards on the ground and his passer rating was nearly perfect — a 139.2.
“The kid played well,” Trivers said.
It was clear Trivers and the Eagles coaching staff wanted to ease Williams into his varsity career. Of the 45 Gonzaga plays on Saturday, 11 were pass attempts from Williams. Nonetheless, the freshman capitalized on his opportunities.
On his first drive, Williams connected with Sydney Person on a 12-yard hitch route, which set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Loic Sangwa on the ensuing play. His second drive, though, was a forgettable one. Williams botched a snap at the Gonzaga 33-yard line, and Gilman pounced on it. Luckily, for Williams at least, the Greyhounds never capitalized.
Soon after, Williams uncorked a 70-yard scoring bomb down the right sideline to fellow receiver Dean Engram that pushed the Eagles lead to 14-0 midway through the second quarter.
“He’s a very talented, young quarterback,” Engram said. “He has a bright future and is going to help us a lot this season. … Yeah, I know: A freshman starting in the WCAC is a big role. But he’ll be good.”
Out of the second half gate, Williams, with just enough patience to allow his receiver to break free, heaved a 50-yard beauty into the hands of Person, who took it to the end zone and swelled the Gonzaga lead to 28-0. Shortly after, Williams got the call to the bench — not the benching bench, but the signal of admiration.
At that point, the first game of many to come was locked away — a 38-0 rout over ranked Gilman — and the all-important first step in pursuing the program’s first conference title since 2002.
“One of our words is “now,” and it’s in the [acronym], ‘NEF.’ Now, embrace, finish,” Williams said. “That’s the word that we use. I have to focus on the now, and now I get to go have some with the family.”