ELCA's Andrew Williams hopes to lead the Chargers to another title

Photo by Gabriel Stovall / The rising senior will be a key cog in ELCA's hopes to repeat as state champions.

Photo by Gabriel Stovall / The rising senior will be a key cog in ELCA's hopes to repeat as state champions.

Every now and then Eagle's Landing Christian coach Jonathan Gess likes to have a little fun with his star defensive end.

"I tell him, 'Hey Andrew, you know they're saying that [Norcross defensive end] Lorenzo Carter is better than you are,'" Gess said. "'What are you going to do about that?' It's just something I say to him at times to motivate him to become better."

Does it work?

"Oh absolutely," Williams said. "Lorenzo and I are real cool with each other. We've known each other since about the 10th grade, just going through the same things as defensive ends, and we just kind of bonded."

Those "same things" included hosting the same state championship hardware in 2012. Williams stood atop the platform with his teammates as ELCA claimed the Class A title in impressive form, while Carter helped stifle a potent Lovejoy offense to help lead the Blue Devils to the Class AAAAAA crown.

Both players are among the most highly recruited players in the state, if not the nation — Williams is ranked no lower than 26th in the three major recruiting services' rankings.

And each rush end has a plethora of college scholarship offers, with Williams checking in with a whopping 45.

But when it comes to striving to be the best, the kindred nature of Williams and Carter's relationship takes a split and becomes every man for himself.

"We're cool, like I said, but, when it comes to competing, I have the mind of a winner," Williams said. "So it's always motivating to me when I hear people compare the two of us."

As far as defensive ends in the Southern Crescent go, there may be no comparison with the Chargers' standout.

The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Williams registered more than 50 tackles last year with 20 for a loss and 14 sacks. And while many football players across the area would be satisfied with such stats, Williams said he's not resting on his laurels.

"Personally I took the initiative to work on my speed and strength this year," he said. "And I really feel like that has paid off."

Starting not long after the season, Williams said he began a regiment that included three two-a-day workouts each week. He has shaved his 40-yard dash time down from 4.9 to 4.7 seconds, and he said he is taking note of proven players at his position to help expose him to what it takes to continue to work his way toward elite status.

"I try to be an all around football player, just like J.J. Watt (Houston Texans DE)," Williams said. "And I also look at Alden Smith (San Francisco 49ers DE) who inspires me to just be a dominant force and a true defensive end who just wants to go and get that quarterback."

A consensus four-star rated recruit, Williams has received offers from the likes of Clemson, Michigan, Ole Miss, Georgia, Auburn and Notre Dame.

If Williams were to choose the Irish, he'd be the second ELCA player in as many years to commit to playing in South Bend, IN. Former Charger defensive lineman Isaac Rochell will be a freshman with the Bowl Championship Subdivision runners up this season.

Williams said he'd like finalize the recruiting process as quickly as possible.

"Hopefully before the season gets started," he said. "I'm trying to get it over with by then."

That's because Williams, while still in high school, has more pressing matters to tend to.

"Last year, winning the state title and all, it was amazing to just win it and see all of our hard work pay off," he said. "It's definitely motivation for us to get back this year and win another one. That's the goal."