If there were one indication of any father-son, coach-player favoritism between Winston Churchill High School senior Dominique Williams and his father, Willie, in the past three years, it was this: If Dominique slipped up on the football field, he got yelled at just a little more.
Such is the life of the son of a Super Bowl winning cornerback, Willie Williams, being coached by his dad, Churchill’s defensive coordinator.
“That’s just how it is with a father-son relationship,” said Dominique, who earned three varsity letters in both football and basketball. “He has the experience of making it to the top, so I just learned it from him, and that’s how I was driven and stayed humble.”
It’s not that Dominique Williams got an earful from his father every minute of every practice. In fact, it became so rare that he would need a stern talking-to that Churchill coach Joe Allen said he would “go through two weeks of practice and not say one word to him because he’s always in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.
“Dominique is going to be great one day. I don’t know what, but he’ll be in a leadership position somewhere. This kid, you know is going to lay it on the line and you don’t need to give him a pep talk, you don’t need to look in his eyes and see if he’s dialed in because you just know.”
Of all 32 games that Dominique played for Allen at the varsity level — he missed just one in his entire career after dislocating his shoulder — it was a 34-0 loss to Seneca Valley back in 2010 that is the proudest he says he’s ever been of the younger Williams.
At the time, Dominique was a sophomore, a natural cornerback in just his second varsity game. But he was also the third-string quarterback, and after some breathtakingly bad luck that sidelined the first and second stringers, he was slated to call the signals against the Screaming Eagles.
“He just stepped right in,” Allen said. “He might have been shaking in his boots. I don’t know if he was, but he didn’t show any of it. He just went out there and played. There’s no other kid that would have stepped in like he did.”
Dominique Williams, who played a little quarterback in eighth grade, had just five days to prepare for one of the most historically powerful programs in the area. He admitted to being nervous, and in all rights and purposes he should have been, but he also remembers being surprisingly confident considering the conditions he was thrust into.
“I just stepped up and said, ‘You know what? I’m going to do it,’” he said.
And he would do anything, whatever Allen needed on the football field or Matt Miller needed on the basketball court, for the next three years. He missed just one game between both sports in the six combined seasons at the varsity level, played through a torn labrum and all of the bumps and bruises acquired along the way and never slowed down to nurse a sore something or other.
“The fact that I haven’t missed a game is something I’m very proud of,” Williams said. “If I can go 90 percent, no matter what it is, I’m going to play. I just like to set an example for the other kids coming up.”
Williams is scheduled to graduate from the Potomac school the owner of three records that are likely to take some time in breaking. During last Tuesday’s loss to Quince Orchard, which effectively ended his varsity tenure as a Bulldog, he broke Christian Bonaparte’s mark of 71 games as the most ever played on varsity basketball.
On Jan. 28, in a 67-58 win against Richard Montgomery, he broke, and later shattered, Thomas Geenen’s school steal record of 127 (he finished with 155), a mark previously owned by Eric Smith, who went on to play for Georgetown. That final tally goes with his single-game record of 11 steals.
“Dominique’s always been a kid you never question his effort,” Miller said. “He makes it all work. He’s got the best work ethic of any guy I’ve ever coached. He consistently brought it. He willed us to a lot of wins. He gave us a toughness, and toughness can be contagious.”
With Williams, the Bulldogs won three-consecutive 4A South Division titles, going 55-17 in those three years.
“He came in with so much intensity,” Miller said. “He turned himself into the player we had to have by midway through his sophomore year.”
His grittiness was noticed by the coaches at Alderson-Broaddus College, who were the first to offer him full ride (he also earned an academic scholarship) that he accepted a short time later.
“When we were away from the field, I’d tell him what he had to do to separate himself from everybody else,” Willie Williams said. “Just hard work, the kind of work you put in during the offseason because that’s where it counts. He put in not just 100 percent. He went over it. He did that on his own. He raised the bar himself because he knows if he doesn’t get it from his coaches, he’s going to get it from me.”
Such is the work ethic of the son of a Super Bowl winning cornerback.