Kasen Williams, The Man, The Myth, The Legend.21 Sep 2017
Before I talk about Kasen Williams, I have to clarify that this comes through the lens of someone who played for Issaquah High School, the crosstown rival of Skyline High School, Mr. Williams Alma Mater. We hated Skyline with a burning passion, for very some very petty reasons, mostly that they kept beating us, with Kasen being the prime inflictor of scholastic athletic pain.
Looking back now years later, the differences between our two schools were negligible, and every athlete in the county, every athlete in the state even, realized Kasen was something different.
The Skyline football program was incredibly well organized, with a massive booster club. At the time, we thought we deserved our victories, and that Skyline’s socioeconomic advantages were responsible for our snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
With all this contempt in mind, one player was immune to such criticism, and that was Kasen Williams. Anyone who saw Kasen Williams knew they were viewing athletic genius. There was one Jake Heaps pass that made me feel the same way, there were dozens of Kasen Williams receptions that made entire teams, and their staff, throw headsets, smash water bottles, and curse in ways no mother could ever approve of. He could suck the air out of a team with a single catch.
Kasen Williams was the most singularly impressive athlete I have ever witnessed, and I am fortunate enough to say I shared a field playing against him. Kasen was the kind of guy where you would be surprised to hear if he lost an event in track and field because his dominance was a foregone conclusion.
I could write a book on the magnificence of some of his athletic achievements, or just the night that I managed to solo tackle him on a screen pass, but one story, in particular, comes to mind.
To frame this story, I have to give some relevant background. It was my Senior year; I had worked indefatigably only for my coaches to sideline me for the quarterfinals without any discussion with me. We were pieces of meat to our coaches, pawns in a surprisingly elaborate chess game for a high school team sport.
The most professional — and most intimidating — coach I had the pleasure of learning under was Brad Vanneman. If an AP English teacher needed an example for an archetype of mental fortitude and holistic success, they could list the litany of achievements of Brad Vanneman.
- Starting center for University of Washington for multiple years
- Beautiful wife, multiple children
- Turned down my mother’s cheesecake
- Lost over 100 pounds after playing football
Anyways, I have to stop with my man crush; this man was my mentor, and I respected him more than anyone else during my high school tenure. He is one of the most intense competitors I have ever known.
And Kasen Williams crushed him. And he doesn’t even know he did it.
Kasen took an old dawg and taught him that he was no longer going to be the one doing the tricks.
The moment in that quarterfinals game that lingers with me was a mostly inconsequential play in the story of the proverbial chess match. Max Browne, Skyline’s Quarterback, and a national prospect was being pressured by one of my good friends and teammates and threw a ball which looked to be a dumped pass out of bounds.
But Kasen Williams was in the general airspace of this particular pigskin. In an instant, he jumped from a complete standstill at least 3 feet in the air, stuck one hand out, and pulled down the football from the upper atmosphere, getting one foot down inbounds and securing the first down.
Brad screamed into his headset, “How the FUCK do we stop that?!”, And then Brad paced off bickering while all of us on the sideline stood slack-jawed and wordless.
Kasen Williams caused the toughest man I know to look helpless. He demoralized us time after time. In 2008 he was a player on a team that helped beat us, in 2011, he was the player that eviscerated us.
The caliber of play must be absurdly high in the NFL for him to be struggling, ordinary people simply can’t understand what it takes. I hope he has all the success in the world because I don’t want to believe some people are that much better than him.