Sacred Heart Cathedral’s Williams-Sheppard flashes youthful brilliance 

click to enlarge Sacred Heart Cathedral junior running back Jamar Williams-Sheppard, right, has more than 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns in eight games. - WILLIE EASHMAN/S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • Willie Eashman/S.F. Examiner file photo
  • Sacred Heart Cathedral junior running back Jamar Williams-Sheppard, right, has more than 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns in eight games.

It can't be a good feeling for a defender to peel himself off the ground after getting plowed over, look at the offensive player who did the damage and think, "Man, that brute isn't even old enough to drive a car."

Well, technically that's not the case anymore for Sacred Heart Cathedral junior running back Jamar Williams-Sheppard. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound junior running back, who has already surpassed 1,000 yards this reason, averages 7.0 yards a carry and piled up 15 touchdowns, actually turned 16 years old Sunday.

"I've always enjoyed the challenge of playing against older guys," said Williams-Sheppard, one of the youngest students in his 2015 class at Sacred Heart. "I know that moving forward, playing in college, I'm going to be facing juniors and seniors who are all older than me, so this is good preparation."

Despite his youthfulness, Williams-Sheppard has posted eye-opening numbers this season for the Irish (3-5, 0-4 West Catholic Athletic League), who will face league rival Serra (5-3, 4-1) today at Terra Nova High School (technically a home game for Sacred Heart as Kezar Stadium undergoes renovations). After starring in the nonconference season with a pair of 200-yard rushing games, Williams-Sheppard proved he could repeat that feat against the bad boys of the WCAL by piling up 305 yards and four touchdowns in the team's conference opener against Mitty, a game the Irish narrowly lost 33-27.

"We've asked a lot of Jamar this season, and for being as young as he is, to respond the way he has, is truly a testament to his character," Sacred Heart coach Ken Peralta. "He worked extremely hard in the offseason to get to where he is today."

Peralta will be counting on a big game from Williams-Sheppard tonight, as the Irish look to halt a five-game losing streak, which includes three defeats by a touchdown or less.

"We've been in every single one of these games, so it's been tough to come away with losses," said Williams-Sheppard, who was named the WCAL's Sophomore of the Year last season. "But we're sticking together, and we know that if we make the right adjustments, we can find a way to win."

Williams-Sheppard has already proven plenty this season, and his performances have caught the eye of several Pac-12 Conference schools, Peralta said. With another year to refine his vision and improve his speed, Peralta said that Williams-Sheppard could go down as one of the best running backs in school history, joining a prestigious group that includes recent standouts like Valentino Miles, Dasarte Yarnway, as well as Jamar's father, also named Jamar, who currently holds the school's career rushing record.

Even more impressively, Williams-Sheppard has been putting together his standout season while playing through a great amount of emotional turmoil. His cousin, 14-year-old Rashawn Williams, was fatally stabbed at a Mission corner store on Sept. 2.

"He's still healing," Peralta said. "He's been through so much this season, but he's stayed focus. It's been really remarkable."

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Will Reisman

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