Like many teenagers, Monte Williams spent his summer going to camp.
These summer camps, however, weren’t about fireside chats, paddling the canoe downstream or playing volleyball with friends in the sand of the Pinelands.
No, the determined junior quarterback for the Cherry Hill West High School football team traveled to football camps.
Williams attended a camp in Virginia, Philadelphia and Camden this summer.
“He does everything you want a young guy to do and, on top of that, he is a fabulous football player,” Cherry Hill West coach Brian Wright said.
As you can imagine from an athlete this driven and dedicated, football is of towering importance to Williams.
And winning football games trumps all.
"I try my hardest to be a leader,” Williams said.
After enjoying their best regular season in four decades with Williams behind center, the Lions reached the playoffs last year. But West lost in the first round, dropping their overall postseason record to just 0-2.
The quest for Williams and his teammates for a sustained postseason begins Friday night when the Lions travel to Seneca for a tough opener against the Golden Eagles.
“We beat them last year, so they're definitely trying to get revenge,” Williams said.
Williams will play corner this year as well for Wright.
“We are a well-rounded team and I'm going to do everything I can to help us win,” Williams said.
The Lions finished last year 8-2 for the program’s best season since 1967 when West tasted perfection in nine games.
West topped their season off with a satisfying 40-0 Thanksgiving triumph over Cherry Hill East. Williams hit Sameer Parks for a 60-yard touchdown play in the win.
“We have a good thing going,” Wright said, “we’ll see how things go this year.”
The Lions streaked to 7-0 last season before losing to Camden Catholic and then Highland in consecutive weeks.
West’s postseason ended in the Group 4 playoffs as fifth-seeded Highland knocked out the fourth-seeded Lions, 30-8, on their home turf at Jonas C. Morris Stadium. In the first-round loss, Williams connected on an 18-yard touchdown pass to Naiem Simmons.
Simmons is also a junior this year.
“Those two are looking forward to doing special things the next couple of years,” Wright said.
“It is exciting for them to be part of this, these young guys played a huge part in this.
“Most importantly looking forward to having Monte back again next year, not just for football, but he is a great kid.”
While attending camps and training with his teammates, Williams also worked at Adrenaline Sports Performance in Cherry Hill over the summer.
“I was there every day working after practice,” Williams said.
On a hot summer morning in July, Williams attended the Haason Reddick camp that was sponsored by the Camden Health & Athletic Association (CHAA) at Farnham Park.
The Temple University star linebacker, who played at Haddon Heights, was chosen with the 13th overall pick in the first round by the Arizona Cardinals in April.
“He talked about humility and being humble and integrity and doing what you need to do when no one is looking,” Williams said about Reddick, “and he talked about how hard you got to work to get to the league.”
Williams seems to have had already learned those lessons.
“He is a great kid,” Wright said. “He is as hard of a worker as we have and it translates off the football field as well.
“He is an honor student and really cares about the out come of things.”
Wright said Williams came to school early last year to work on chemistry.
“He is a kid that every one loves, whether it’s on the football field or in hallways in West,” Wright said.
With all the work in the weight room, the 5-foot-10 Williams is up to 155 pounds.
“I was just trying to get better, “he said.
Williams said he has been contacted by the University of Colorado and some Division II teams. He says coaches have talked to him about playing cornerback at the next level.
“I will play wherever is best for the team,” Williams said, “I'll do whatever it takes.”
Williams is thinking of majoring in engineering.
“We give him a lot of responsibilities,” Wright said. “During practice I let him call five plays, to see what he is comfortable with, and to be honest, he is always on point.”
Once again, West will run the spread offense.
“Were trying to get our receivers in space,” Williams said, “trying to get me in space.”
The school on Chapel Avenue on the west side of Cherry Hill will continue to try and make a name for itself as a football school.
“We have to be working hard because we know Seneca is working too,” Williams said.
Working hard is the only way Williams knows.
“He is just a tremendous kid,” Wright said. “His work ethic is different than most.”