Michigan Ap Division 7-8 All-State Player Of Year: Jackson Lumen Christi's Kadale Williams

A year ago, when Lumen Christi was working its way towards a 12th football state championship, Kadale Williams was mostly playing defense.

A sophomore at the time, Williams was behind veteran running backs Devian Franklin and Derrick Walker, as well as the Titans’ dual-threat quarterback Joe Lathers.

While Williams did have a team-high five interceptions as a safety last year, he was used sparingly on offense.

When Lumen Christi beat Traverse City St. Francis in the 2022 state title game, he had one carry.

A lot changed in a year

Williams made the most of increased opportunities this season with a mostly new group of players at offensive skill positions, getting 210 carries for 1,778 yards and 30 touchdowns.

He also had a pair of receiving touchdowns and made an impact on special teams with nine kick returns for 296 yards.

The remarkable season, and his offensive fireworks at Ford Field to cap it off, helped Williams earn Player of the Year honors from the Michigan Associated Press for Division 7-8.

“I started on defense but now I’m in a new position so I knew what I had to come out and do and make everybody proud,” he said shortly after Lumen Christi’s 34-30 win over Menominee for the Division 7 state title at Ford Field, a game in which Williams rushed for 276 yards and three touchdowns.

He had plenty of big games during the regular season, including a Week 1 win over Michigan Center in which he had three touchdowns, including a 63-yard score.

Williams went to another level in the postseason.

In the playoff-opening win over Grass Lake, he had 154 yards and three touchdowns with two of them late in the second quarter and another in the third as the Titans broke a 14-14 tie. Then came a 133-yard regional final game against Clinton, in which Williams had a 54-yard touchdown to help the Titans pull out a 21-14 win. His three first-half touchdowns helped pull away from Millington before halftime in the semifinals.

Williams' speedy, elusive running style helped him get around defenders and he often made cutback moves to pick up extra yardage.

In the state championship game, he carried Menominee defenders downfield to pick up extra yards in a highly competitive game.

Down 14-0 in the first quarter, Williams had six carries and a touchdown on a 10-play drive. The Titans’ next possession went 88 yards in four plays, with Williams breaking off runs of 28, 7 and 45 yards.

“Coming in at halftime, I had to tell my guys, it’s not over,” Williams said. “’It’s tied, it’s 0-0, if you think this game’s over, it’s not the right place for you right now, keep your heads up and punch them in the mouth the second half.’ And that’s what they did.”

He continued that in the second half as the Titans rallied for a win, and the school’s 13th state championship.