He can count the wins on both hands, with two thumbs and a pinkie to spare.
In 42 football Saturdays, Whitworth College fifth-year senior Brion Williams has experienced the satisfaction of victory just seven times. And that includes last year, when the wide receiver stood on the sideline for the last seven games because of the anterior cruciate ligament injury that cut his season short.
“Yeah the losses eat at me,” Williams said. “I have to hear people constantly say, ‘Are you going to win this week?’ Or, ‘How much are you going to lose by?’ They’re monotonous questions.”
The monotony has indeed developed into an unwelcomed pattern for the Pirates, who enter Saturday’s home game against Lewis & Clark College 0-6 on the year and 0-2 in the Northwest Conference of Independent Colleges. The losing streak dates to last season and has reached 14 straight.
Williams, one of five starting seniors, has been there through it all.
He explained it was not in his plan when he arrived at Whitworth as a running back from Anchorage. His Bartlett High School team had just won the Class 4A state title for the second time in four years.
Since then, the 5-foot-8, 174-pound athlete has seen coach Shorty Bennett leave, and he’s been a witness to several young teams that suffered through growing pains.
“We’ve always had potential. We’ve been young. Through the course of time here I don’t think we’ve played a full game.”
As was the case just last week on the road against No. 16 Willamette. The Pirates led 26-23 with 9:56 left in the game before falling 37-26. Whitworth’s two late possessions ended in interceptions.
Through all of this, Williams’ numbers have been good. He was converted from a running back to a receiver this season in an effort to put less pressure on his damaged right knee. The joint decision between he and coach John Tully has worked well.
Williams, who was recruited as a defensive back, is averaging 12.4 yards per catch, compiling 360 yards on 29 receptions with one touchdown. He’s ranked fourth in the league, behind Lewis & Clark’s Jon Kinsey (38 receptions for 347 yards and two TDs).
Williams also has compiled 100 yards rushing on nine carries for two touchdowns and 194 kick return yards on 10 attempts.
“Brion has been a positive player,” Tully said. “He’s such a threat in the open field. We thought it would be a positive move to move him to receiver for him and us.”
The next positive move the Pirates are hoping to take is in the win column. Williams visualizes it happening.
After graduation, Williams, a communications major, said he wants to run a combination shelter and youth gym. With just one class on his fall schedule, Williams is working 30 hours a week at the Volunteers of America’s Crosswalk in downtown Spokane.
Rob Leslie will remain at quarterback for the Pirates. Leslie replaced Casey Doyle two weeks ago when Doyle suffered a mild concussion. Tully said Leslie played well enough against Willamette to earn the starting job. The Pioneers (3-4, 1-1) are coming off a 28-24 loss to Pacific Lutheran in a game they were leading with 1:15 left. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.
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