Sto-Rox quarterback is WPIAL career passing leader after tough start

Williams deals with personal tragedy to become a record-setting player who has led his team to 7-0 start


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The most prolific passing quarterback in the history of WPIAL football is sitting on a couch in his living room, staring at a glass cabinet filled with his trophies and memorabilia. Everything feels "cool" to Lenny Williams, and it has nothing to do with his leg being wrapped in ice after just finishing a Sto-Rox practice.

Williams feels calmer and cooler now that the chase for the passing record is over. He is much more at ease with life, not having the anger issues that used to get him in trouble in his younger years.

And he is at peace these days with the great uncle who shot and killed his father when Williams was 2.

Leonard Lindsay Williams Jr. is a 17-year-old senior at Sto-Rox High School who etched his name in the record books in successive games. On Oct. 4, he broke the WPIAL record for career touchdown passes and last Saturday he broke the record for passing yardage. He now has 7,369 yards passing and 92 touchdowns.

PG graphic: WPIAL career passing leaders
(Click image for larger version)

But simply knowing Williams' records and his athletic accomplishments doesn't tell the story about this 17-year-old who rocks the Rox. His story is about a rocky life's journey that brought him to the top of the WPIAL. It's about changing paths in life, about letting go of the anger that came with growing up without a father and about bonding with a mother who he now calls a rock. It's about forgiving and having a relationship with the man who shot his father in a drug deal gone bad in 1998.

Williams has certainly overcome. He regularly talks with his great uncle, George "Drew" Dorsey, a former star Sto-Rox athlete who a jury found innocent of murder charges in the shooting death of Williams' father. The jury ruled Dorsey acted in self defense.

And in the strangest twists of Williams' life and story, the uncle who shot Williams' father has a son who protects Williams. Dom Dorsey is a senior at Sto-Rox and a starting offensive tackle for the Vikings.

"That's my big cousin protecting me," Williams said with a proud smile. "I'm happy. I really couldn't ask for much else. Football-wise, the record thing is over and that has kind of put me at peace."

And the uncle?

"This spring, we had a big talk," Williams said. "I felt like I was finally old enough to get that talk. I had always heard stories about what happened and what went down that night with my dad. We talked for hours and hours. I finally got some closure."

And by the time the leaves started to fall, Williams was opening the WPIAL record books.

Dealing without dad

Drew Dorsey was a standout football and basketball player at Sto-Rox in the mid to late 1980s and played in the preliminary game of the prestigious Dapper Dan Roundball Classic. An uncle to Williams' mother, Kelly Dorsey, Drew had some brushes with the law after graduating from Sto-Rox.

On the night of July 19, 1998, Leonard Williams Sr., was shot in the head and stomach by Drew Dorsey outside of a McKees Rocks house. The shooting followed a scuffle between the two men and another man, Vernon Williams, Leonard's brother. Drew Dorsey told the jury in a 1999 trial that the scuffle was over a $13,000 cocaine deal gone bad.

Dorsey was acquitted by a jury, although he later served prison time for other offenses.

Lenny Williams Jr., was only 2 when his father was killed and the only recollection he has of his dad was that he regularly wore a Cleveland Indians shirt. Although he couldn't remember his father, he hurt without a father.

"As a kid, I was definitely angry," Williams said. "I wouldn't say I was crazy, but growing up without a dad was real hard for me. All my other friends, they had a dad, and I didn't and I was always mad about it. I think that made me an angry kid, my head wasn't on right and I got in some trouble."

Bill Minear has coached Williams in basketball at Sto-Rox the past three seasons before retiring this past season. In 1998, when police were looking for Drew Dorsey two weeks after the shooting, Minear drove Dorsey to his lawyer to turn himself in.

Minear also teaches art at Sto-Rox Elementary School and has known Williams since his childhood days.

"Lenny had so much anger inside him," Minear said. "When he was in fourth grade, he was at my end of the building. I would hear a door slam and hear a teaching yelling at him. Then I would see him come past my room, with his fists all balled up and in tears. I'd pull him in my room and talk to him.

"But as he grew up, I think he learned to deal with that anger and turned it into positive things. I think Drew has tried to make amends with Lenny and you look at Lenny now. He does some things teenagers do, but he's on the journey to becoming a good man."

Williams acknowledged that he didn't hang with the most savory characters in his younger years. He used to live with his mother in the McKees Rocks Terrace housing community.

He now lives with his mother, 10-month-old brother and a younger sister in the Norwood neighborhood of McKees Rocks. Williams also has an older brother and older sister.

"It wasn't like I was hanging with gangs when I was younger, but I used to get into a little trouble," he said. "Some friends I had maybe I shouldn't have had. But even back then, no matter what I did, I always had good grades."

These day, Williams has a 3.6 grade-point average and has a goal of raising his SAT score a little more to reach 1,600 (in the three parts of the test).

Mom and sports

Somewhere along the line while growing up, Williams changed. He wasn't so angry. He changed the crowd he called friends.

Williams credits some coaches who helped him during his younger years. One was Archie Brinza, a McKees Rocks resident whose son, Luigi Lista-Brinza, is now a standout senior running back at Central Catholic High School.

"Archie Brinza kind of became like my dad after I started playing football when I was younger," Williams said.

Kelly Dorsey was fearful of how her son might grow up without his father. She tried to be strict with him. She sometimes worked two jobs to make ends meet. These days, Kelly Dorsey, 37, helps run a day-care center a few blocks from Sto-Rox's school and football stadium.

"I was scared to raise a boy by myself, scared to death," Kelly Dorsey said. "I'm a female, so I knew how to do females. I just wanted him to have a foundation. I tried to make sure I was the mom and the dad, but it was hard for Lenny.

"Nowadays, I tell people I couldn't ask for a better son."

Lenny Williams said, "At the end of the day I just want to make my mom happy. Before I'm happy, I want her to be happy. If she wasn't the way she was with me, on me about things, I don't know where I would be."

The other thing that helped Williams deal with life was sports. He played football, basketball and baseball and still played all three sports as a junior at Sto-Rox.

"I know Sto-Rox has had that thing where academics aren't as important as they should be," Minear said. "But I don't know where Lenny would be without sports -- and because of sports he would always get A's."

Football is definitely Williams' best sport. He was a standout player in midget leagues, but didn't play much at quarterback.

As a freshman, Williams was practicing with the varsity at receiver and defensive back, and was the JV quarterback. Then varsity quarterback Jordan Latimer was injured in the second game. Williams started the third game and he "arrived" in the fourth game of the season at perennial power Rochester. He completed his first 16 passes and finished 19 of 26 for 325 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-32 loss.

Ron Butschle was Sto-Rox's coach then and said after the game "He's going to be a great one."

Dan Bradley is now Sto-Rox's coach.

"From talking to a lot of people, Lenny did have a lot of obstacles when he was younger, but he has just continued to grow as a person," Bradley said. "I'm not saying he's a saint now. He makes mistakes, I'm sure. But he hasn't made one in a while and he has a good support group around him now."

The future

Williams said that while the WPIAL records are nice, they won't mean as much if Sto-Rox doesn't win the WPIAL Class A title. The Vikings, 7-0 this season, have lost to Clairton in the past two WPIAL title games.

Williams has scholarship offers from Temple, Akron, Bowling Green and Rutgers. Despite his success, schools don't necessarily want him as a quarterback. He is only 5 feet 11, 199 pounds and major colleges don't exactly fall over themselves for 5-11 quarterbacks.

Williams said he is fine with the idea of possibly moving to receiver or defensive back in college.

"Temple probably talks to me the most," Williams said.

But simply going to college makes Williams proud because few in his extended family have gone on to college. Williams is thinking about maybe majoring in accounting.

"I like math," Williams said, "and I like playing around with numbers."

Like passing yardage numbers?

After Williams broke the WPIAL record last Saturday against Western Beaver, he decided to walk home from school. Just before his house, he slipped into an alley. His family looked for him, but Williams spent a half hour in the alley, thinking and crying.

"I can't explain, but I just got emotional," Williams said. "I think about my dad going into every game. I got both of them records in two weeks. I was just thinking about how I just wish he were able to be here and see it. I just got overwhelmed and it hit me hard."

But in the end, it was cool.

Kelly Dorsey said, "I've never told him that boys don't cry."

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For more on high school sports, go to "Varsity Blog" at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: mwhite@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh First Published October 17, 2013 8:00 PM


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