Williams and McBride finalists for prestigious award

Kyle Riviere
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Ascension Catholic's Jai Williams and East Ascension's Steven McBride have been two of the most heralded football players in the Baton Rouge area for the past two years.

They have earned countless achievements on their way to concluding two tremendous high-school football careers. But the accolades will not cease just yet.

Recently, both Williams and McBride were named finalists for the Warrick Dunn Award as WAFB's Sportsline Player of the Year, which is named after the Louisiana football legend.

Dunn’s amazing journey is well known across the state.

Dunn’s mother, the late Betty Smothers, was a single parent working as a Baton Rouge Police officer while he was still a student at Catholic High of Baton Rouge.

One late night, Smothers was shot and killed in the line of duty. As painful as it was for Dunn, he never let his mother’s loss break him.

Instead, he made it his mission to strive for greatness, honor her memory and make her proud.

After a stellar high-school career at Catholic, he went on to become the all-time rushing leader at Florida State. In his four years there, the Seminoles won a national title, and Dunn finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting in 1996.

He went on to become a first-round draft pick for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1997. In his 12-year professional career, he played for both the Bucs and the Atlanta Falcons.

In that time, he rushed for nearly 11,000 yards and 49 touchdowns. He was a three-time Pro Bowler and the 1997 Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Dunn is also known for the amazing work he has done off of the field. He started his Homes for the Holidays program that provides single working mothers with brand new furnished homes in Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Tallahassee and Tampa. This was instrumental in Dunn being named the 2004 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.

The Warrick Dunn Award has now been around for 13 years and goes to high-school players that have been great on the field, but also exhibit the intangibles like character, selflessness and sportsmanship that Dunn possessed throughout his career.

This year's nominees are: Williams, McBride, Central's Sam Kenerson, Baker's Desmond Windon, Catholic's Josh Parker and Jackson Thomas, St. James' Shamar Smith, University's Jaquelin Roy and Zachary's Keilon Brown.

Williams has had truly a special career at Ascension Catholic. He has rushed for more than 1,400 yards in three straight seasons.

As a junior, he had one of the greatest years a running back has ever had in Ascension Parish, rushing for nearly 3,000 yards and more than 30 touchdowns.

In the Division-IV title game, he set a new record with 40 carries, and his 262 rushing yards were the most ever in a Class 1A/Division-IV championship game.

For his senior campaign, Williams rushed for 1,410 yards and 23 touchdowns. In doing so, he broke the school record for career touchdowns, which was previously held by his father Germaine.

Williams was named the District 7-1A Offensive MVP and the All-Metro Outstanding Player.

McBride has established himself as one of the best receivers in the Baton Rouge area for the past two seasons.

As both a junior and a senior, McBride made first-team all-district and All-Parish.

This past season, McBride had 44 catches for 984 yards and 12 touchdowns. In addition to all-district and All-Parish, McBride was also a first-team All-Metro selection.

McBride recently signed with Kansas.

The winner of the award will be named on Jan. 15.