Lenny Williams' upcoming senior season at Sto-Rox was filled with potential and promise. All that was nearly wiped out Aug. 6, however, when Williams had an accident while cutting hedges at his summer job with Stowe Township.
Williams severely cut his left hand, causing nerve and tendon damage and even chipping his bone.
"I was cutting hedges and I cut something wrong and it hit my hand," Williams said. "I thought I was going to have to get my finger cut off. It cut my nerve all the way."
Williams needed so many stitches that he did not want to know how many and never asked.
The thought of his football career being over crossed his mind.
"I thought about that as soon as it happened because of how serious it looked," Williams said.
A senior right-handed quarterback, Williams had surgery on his non-throwing hand the next day and the timetable for a return to the football field is still uncertain. He will meet with doctors Aug. 29 and will know more then, but for now he is maintaining an optimistic outlook.
"Doctors said everything should be OK, it is just healing now," Williams said. "It can either be Week 2 or Week 3 depending on how it feels. I might come back Week 1, it all depends on what the doctor says. I will say for sure that I will be back for Week 3. I have to play that game, I got to be there for Neshannock."
Sto-Rox plays host to Neshannock in Week 3 Sept. 12. The Lancers edged Sto-Rox, 35-34, last season at Neshannock. It was the only loss of the season for Sto-Rox until it fell in the WPIAL Class A final to Clairton, 58-21.
Williams made the Post-Gazette Fabulous 22 last year after he passed for 2,237 yards and rushing for 1,189 yards.
"He is our catalyst," coach Dan Bradley said. "He makes us go, whether it is pass or run. Everything goes through him. Lenny is a smart football player, he understands all of it. He has been taking reps for three years and is so much further along now, he has a lot of experience."
Williams is yet another standout quarterback at Sto-Rox, a program that has in recent years produced the likes of Adam DiMichele and Paul Jones. Williams is third in program history in career passing yards and he has a chance to surpass DiMichele and Jones this season.
"Sometimes I think when you are a good athlete, a great athlete, it goes unnoticed how smart you are," Bradley said. "Lenny has a high IQ and he has a great football IQ. Sometimes when things break down, he will use his legs but he is a quarterback who looks to pass before he looks to run. Sometimes when things break down, guys will take off. Lenny will sit in the pocket and go through his progression."
Without Williams, Sto-Rox is trying out different options at quarterback with senior running back Brendan Blair also a potential option.
Williams remains upbeat about his senior year and his team's chances to make a return trip to Heinz Field.
"I am just as excited now as I was coming into this season," Williams said. "I might have to miss a game or two but nothing is going to change. We are just trying to win, that is all that matters."
The Vikings will have to replace leading receiver Ben Shackelford who caught 52 passes for 885 yards last year.
"We won't have the size we had last year but this receiving corps is just as good if not better than last year," Williams said. "We got a couple secret weapons, a couple guys people don't know about who are going to make some noise this year."
Replacing elite receivers is nothing new for Williams. After his sophomore year he had to replace his top three targets, Division I recruits Marzett Geter, Dontez Ford and Deaysean Rippy.
"This offense is built around getting guys the ball in space," Bradley said. "We have guys who can run. We have guys ready to step up to be the next Ben Shackelford, next Dontez Ford, the next receiver coming out of Sto-Rox. With Lenny, guys get to catch, people are excited to play offense for us at Sto-Rox."