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TAMPA — Jefferson’s Mike Fenton has coached all three of Hillsborough County’s most prolific passers.
First, Tampa Catholic’s Kenny Kelly rewrote the record books in the mid 1990s, followed by Jefferson’s Stephen Garcia a decade later. Now, seven games into his senior season, quarterback Quentin Williams can make the county’s career passing yardage record his own tonight at 3A-8 district rival Spoto.
The 6-foot Williams, a third-year starter, enters with 7,934 career yards and can leapfrog Kelly (7,949) and Garcia (8,081) with 148 yards.
Earlier this week, Fenton raved about the past, the athleticism and savvy it takes to throw for that many yards, about Kelly’s ability to carry a team and Garcia’s competitive drive.
“Quentin is all of the above,” Fenton said. “Quentin has the same qualities that Kenny had, and he’s very competitive like Stephen. His biggest attribute is that he’s as cool as a cucumber. I joke with him that he’s got ice in his veins. He just does not get flustered. He keeps the same temperament whether he’s thrown six touchdowns or hasn’t thrown any. You would never know the difference.”
Fenton and offensive coordinator Jeremy Earle remember the moment they realized Williams could be special. He was a freshman, called up to varsity to play on a scout team, and he zinged a curl flat route with a powerful, precise pass that had the coaches looking at each other.
“He whizzed the ball by a guy’s ear,” Earle said. “Nobody thought he could get it there. I don’t even know if the kid caught it. I remember the pass.”
“His arm strength is like none I’ve ever seen in a high school kid, even compared to Kenny and Stephen,” Fenton said.
Williams, last year’s Times all-Suncoast Offensive Player of the Year, has thrown for 1,909 yards and 25 touchdowns this season. He is six touchdowns short of former Plant quarterback Aaron Murray’s career touchdown pass mark (84), and has a shot at a pair of season records — Murray’s touchdown mark in 2007 (51) and ex-Plant quarterback Robert Marve’s yardage mark in ’06 (4,380).
In other words, Williams could go down as the county’s best quarterback ever — at least statistically. Williams remembers sitting in the stands watching Garcia and Marve sling through their senior seasons as an eighth-grader.
More important to Williams is Marve’s feat in 2006: winning a state title in his senior year. Last year, the Dragons lost in the Class 3A state semifinals.
“It’s a humbling thing, you know,” Williams said of being along past greats. “Robert Marve was a great quarterback, so was Stephen Garcia. I watched them both and took a piece of their game and put it in mine. But I’m just trying to get my team to a state championship.”
Williams said he didn’t know about the record until Fenton told him last week.
“I really don’t pay attention to stuff like that. All I care about is the W’s,” he said.