MAPLE VALLEY – The connection came early.
Shane Nelson and DeShon Williams sensed a bond when they met in seventh grade. They gravitated toward the same friends, shared similar interests.
And that was before they started playing football together.
Now, the Nelson-to-Williams connection is as feared as any in the South Puget Sound League 4A and is a key reason Tahoma High School is considered a contender in the SPSL 4A North their senior year.
Nelson completed 157 of 261 passes for 1,958 yards during the 2012 regular season — second to only Puyallup quarterback Brandon Illies — despite missing nearly two full games with a concussion. Williams led all SPSL receivers with 49 catches for 690 yards.
“We have really good chemistry,” said Nelson, who is the primary reason coach Tony Davis scrapped his run-oriented offense in favor of the spread two years ago.
Chemistry and confidence in one another.
“We know each other’s abilities, and we trust each other,” Williams said. “I feel like that’s what sets us apart from other quarterback/receiver duos.”
Teammate Elijah Suka, one of the league’s top linebackers, sees the connection in many aspects.
“They’re really close, outside the field, and that really shows on the field,” he said.
Williams played running back in middle school, but often was Nelson’s target out of the backfield. Their ninth-grade team went undefeated, and both became starters at Tahoma as sophomores, when Davis moved Williams to receiver.
“He just had such good hands,” Davis said. “And he’s such a natural ball-catcher.”
Davis calls both players football-smart. The two are ultracompetitive, with Nelson getting the edge in that department.
“If he’s not the most competitive kid we’ve had, he’s in the top five,” Davis said.
Nelson and Williams enjoy a fun but heated rivalry when it comes to video games, notably on Skyrim or Madden, and they argue over who is better.
Both are multisport athletes. Williams, whose father, Tyrone, played professionally as a defensive end and tackle, has an equal passion for basketball and also competes in track and field. Nelson plays center field for the baseball team.
But right now they are focused on football and have big aspirations. They hope to lead the Bears to their first division title since 2006 make a strong playoff run. Tahoma has lost in the preliminary round of the playoffs the past two years.
“We’d like to achieve more,” Nelson said. “A lot more.”
And with enough Nelson-to-Williams connections, they very well might.
Sandy Ringer: 206-718-1512 or email@example.com