By David Krueger Herald Writer
Billy Green came into the 2012 football season with a lot figured out.
The King’s quarterback knew where he was going after his high school career was over. He knew there was a certain conference foe that he really wanted to beat for the first time. He knew he wanted to finally claim an elusive state championship for the Knights.
Over the course of the season, Green also showed he knew how to pick opposing defenses apart.
He threw for 3,006 yards and 46 touchdowns and ran for an additional 432 yards and six scores while leading the Knights to their first Cascade Conference title and into the quarterfinals of the 1A state tournament. His athletic skills and his team leadership, both on and off the field, earned him The Herald Offensive Player of the Year.
The Brigham Young University-bound Green first emerged as a force a year ago when he was named the Cascade Conference Offensive Player of the Year in his debut season, taking over for former standout King’s quarterback Thomas Vincent, who is now a reserve for the University of Washington. All Green did in his first year as a starter was throw for more tan 2,500 yards and get King’s to the state quarterfinals for the third consecutive year.
“All year round, he leads by example,” King’s coach Jim Shapiro said. “The work ethic he put in in the offseason was seen by everyone, and emulated by all of his teammates. When you can lead like that in the offseason it definitely leads into the football field. He’s the leader that you want.”
Initially, Shapiro didn’t necessarily see Green being as startingly good as he turned out to be. As a freshman, Green was a bit shorter than now and the coach hadn’t yet come to know Green’s strong work ethic. Now, Shapiro praises Green as an example to younger kids of what can happen with hard work.
And a growth spurt.
“I watched Billy play (junior varsity) football as a freshman and sophomore and I said, ‘he’s going to be good. He’ll do okay for us,’” Shapiro said. “He worked so hard before his junior year. I was shocked. I was pleasantly surprised. I really didn’t know what I had in him. As a freshman and sophomore, Billy was skinny. I didn’t know what he’d grow up to be. I think he’s a great example for underclassman what happens with natural growth and a good work ethic.”
Green moved from Plano, Texas, to western Washington right before his freshman year. He toured King’s and immediately knew he found the right school.
“I like that it’s kind of a small, community feeling,” Green said. “(Everybody) follows King’s sports. Everyone knows everyone. … It was kind of a no-brainer. I toured the place and loved it immediately. There was no question where I wanted to go.”
Or what he wanted to do.
After watching Vincent make King’s a perennial contender, Green wanted to get the team past the state quarterfinals for the first time in school history.
King’s rolled during the regular season, scoring an average of 42 points per game. They had a signature 42-39 win to open the season against Lynden, which won the 2A state championship. King’s also defeated conference foe Archbishop Murphy for the first time, during a game that was televised on ROOT Sports, and had a 55-42 victory over then-undefeated Lakewood team that clinched the Knights’ first conference title.
“The pinnacle, was that Lakewood game,” Shapiro said. “A well-coached game with that speed and strength.”
Lakewood coach Dan Teeter said Green is just hard to plan for. If you drop more players in coverage, he can beat you with his legs. If you bring pressure, he added, Green just gets the ball off quickly.
“He’s as accurate a passer in high school as I’ve seen around,” Teeter said. “Throughout the season he just tore it up. He’s as good as they get. He’s the real deal.”
In the playoffs, Green showed a new skill set: scrambling. In the Knights’ first-round state game against Hoquiam, the quarterback threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more as King’s scored 28 unanswered points to defeat the Grizzlies 28-13.
“He’s the backbone of the offense,” Shapiro said. “… In most games, we knew it was going to be a track race. We’d need a lot of points to win the game. We were riding the arm of Billy Green, then the feet of Billy Green, late in the season.”
Unfortunately for King’s, that was the last victory of its 11-1 season. The Knights ran into a tough opponent in eventual-state champion Montesano in the quarterfinals, and history repeated itself. The Bulldogs knocked King’s out of the playoffs in the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year, sealing the Knights’ fourth straight loss in the quarterfinals.
“It was obviously an unfortunate loss in the quarterfinals, but overall I feel the season was a monster success,” Green said. “We, as a team, grew closer. I mean, 11-1 is a great season. I’m really proud of the team.”
Shapiro has no doubt that Green will be successful in his future endeavors. He said he’s going to miss having his senior leader around.
He also has some predictions for Green’s future.
“I think he has a really good shot of playing on Sundays,” Shapiro said. “The assessment from him from collegiate coaches is he has those tangibles. … The kid’s a success. The things I preach, hard work and personal commitment, well that’s Billy Green.”
At least one person is the area isn’t going to miss Green as much.
“It’s always fun to watch talented players play and be in your league,” Teeter said. “But I am not sorry to see him graduate at all.”