Story by Larry Jacobson, JTV Sports
Shocked and disappointed was how Lumen Christi junior Khari Willis described his emotions when the Titans lost in the first round of the playoffs to Parchment this year.
“It still hasn’t hit me that the season is over,” said Willis, JTV’s High School Football Offensive Player of the Year for 2013. “I was ready and prepared to be playing all through November, right up until Thanksgiving. I’m still shocked that it ended the way it did.”
The end came for the Titans, for the second year in a row, in the first round of the playoffs – this time to Parchment 40-35.
“We had so much fun this season – the whole team – and it was great to just be out there with the guys,” Willis said. “Even the practices… I just enjoyed being with my teammates and working with them and getting better. We had a great regular season but just didn’t get it done in the playoffs.”
Getting better and better is what Willis did, starting with a 200+ yard game in the season opener at Buchanan – a game that was called at halftime due to a lightning storm with the Titans up 42-6 – to the school record 300+ yard performance in the playoff loss. In the Parchment game Willis carried 31 times for 303 yards (a single game Lumen Christi record) and tied another single game record with five touchdowns. On the season Willis rushed for 1,563 yards and an astounding 27 touchdowns, despite missing two games with an injured foot.
No longer sharing carries in the backfield with Amani Bass, who graduated last year, Willis ascended to become an every-down, workhorse back for the Titans.
If he ever got tired, he tried not to show it
“I got winded a few times,” he admitted. “But I just wanted the coaches and the team to know they could count on me. I want guys to look back and know that I gave it my all every game, every practice and every snap.”
Khari Willis does indeed give it his all – every game, every practice every snap – and that’s one of the reasons he’s our 2013 High School Football Offensive Player of the Year.