There’s connection between Skyler Williams and Colton Daniels that is about more than just how long the pair have been playing football together.
Yes, the senior receiver (Williams) and senior quarterback (Daniels) of Salem Academy High School’s football team have been playing catch since they were little kids learning the game together.
And, sure, they spent a good deal of last summer throwing the ball back and forth on Salem Academy’s field preparing to take the Crusaders to a level higher than the state playoff team they were the past two seasons.
The connection they shared in Friday’s 14-10 home win against rival Blanchet Catholic in the PacWest Conference opener was more about trust in each other in opportune moments.
They know when each other is going to do something spectacular.
Like in the second quarter when the Crusaders (2-1 overall) were struggling to sustain offensive drives and needed a spark on third and 17 deep in his own territory, Daniels found the 5-foot-9, 170 pound receiver on a screen pass.
Williams then weaved his way through and past seemingly every Blanchet defender on the field and went 77 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
“He was just being Skyler,” Daniels said. “He’s a competitor. He’s a player. He hates to lose. He was just doing what Skyler does. He’s going 100 percent all the time. I think that’s why he got that touchdown, that’s why he never quits.”
Daniels was 15 of 20 passing for 211 yards and a touchdown, Williams hauling in four of those passes for 110 yards and a touchdown.
In Salem Academy’s Blur offense, Daniels has four or five receivers from which to choose on any play, and it’s no coincidence that that Daniels most often finds Williams.
“With Colton and Skyler there is some connection going on there,” Salem Academy coach Gary Johnson said. “And tonight he was our playmaker, Skyler, so we do try to get him the ball, and it ended up working out at key moments.
“Rylan Stamback and Koby McCallum are capable guys, and we weren’t able to get them the ball. He just stepped up and made plays when he needed to, and Colton delivered the ball when he needed to.”
The version of Daniels that showed up on the field with just over two minutes left and his team trailing Blanchet 10-7 after Brian Coen’s 20-yard field goal was a different one than had been on the field the first 45 minutes of the game.
The 6-foot-2, 175 pound senior completed five of his eight throws, including an 11-yard pass to Stamback on fourth down and 11 and hit Williams for passes of 11 and 26 yards, the later bringing the ball to the four yard line.
When Daniels kept the ball on an option run to the left side on the left side, it was Williams’ block that allowed him to leap into the end zone for the game-winning four-yard touchdown.
“Couldn’t have come out better as a quarterback, as a leader,” said McCallum, who recorded an interception and was Horizon Christian’s starting quarterback the past two years.
“Just making all the right plays, making all the right decisions. When that happened he turned into another player. It’s night and day. When it comes to when it counts, he’s going to make the play.”
It is the first win for Salem Academy (2-1 overall, 1-0 PacWest) against Blanchet (1-2 overall, 0-1 PacWest) since 2011.
“We did know that coming in,” Williams said. “We had the stats. We wanted to win this game. All the seniors wanted to win this game with all their heart, and they gave it all out there.”
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6701 or Twitter.com/bpoehler
Salem Academy 14, Blanchet 10
BLA 0 0 7 3-10
SA 0 7 0 7-14
SA- Skyler Williams 77 pass from Colton Daniels (Williams kick) 5:23.
BLA- Denver Bogat 16 run (Brian Coen kick) 4:03.
BLA- Brian Coen 20 field goal 8:30.
SA- Colton Daniels 4 run (Williams kick) :55.