Williams’ brothers cause problems for Lake Stevens’ foes on both sides of the ball
By AARON COE
LAKE STEVENS — Lake Stevens coach Ken Collins is glad his football players wear numbered practice jerseys, because without them, he might be a little lost.
Collins still has a some trouble telling identical twin brothers Matt and Nik Williams apart. Both have tremendous speed and make big plays just about every game. Both are a big reason why the Vikings will play O’Dea in a state playoff quarterfinal Friday night.
And, well, they look alike, too.
"I can tell them apart if they’re together, but if they are by themselves, it’s hard," Collins said. "I have Matt in class, so now, I just look and see what he’s wearing. Then I know it’s him all day."
People may have a little trouble knowing who’s who, but just about everyone in the city of Lake Stevens knows a Williams when they see one.
It’s impossible to miss the big smiles and letterman’s jackets covered with conquests in football and track that the inseparable seniors wear.
At just 5 feet 9 inches and 170 pounds, the Williams brothers don’t have college coaches falling all over them. But they make the same types of plays as NCAA Division I-bound athletes.
Against Mercer Island in Lake Stevens’ first-round playoff victory Friday, quarterback Nolan Perkl threw a deep pass into double coverage. A 6-foot-4 Mercer Island Division I recruit appeared in prime position to intercept the pass, but somehow, the much smaller Nik Williams went up and took the ball away. The Vikings erased Mercer Island’s lead on that drive, and eventually beat the Islanders 21-17. And when the Islanders were driving for a go-ahead score late in the game, Matt Williams beat the same recruit to a ball and returned the interception 66 yards.
"They can make things happen," Perkl said. "That’s what I love about them."
Nik, a wide receiver who is the defending state champion in the 400 meters, averages better than 20 yards per catch and has nearly 700 receiving yards this season. Matt won the Western Conference 3A rushing title and has run for more than 1,300 yards this season. Matt qualified for the state track meet and was a member, along with Nik, of Lake Stevens’ record-setting 1,600-meter relay team. Both are excellent cover corners. They don’t get noticed as much on defense, because they don’t get beat.
"I’m just dang glad there are two of them," Collins said.
Fame does have its price. Being twins is fun, but Matt and Nik would like people to remember that they are individuals, not halves of one whole.
And, believe it or not, they often get asked the question with an answer as obvious as "What color is the sky?"
"Hey, are you guys twins?"
The answer, they would like everyone to know, is, yes. Also, for the record, no, they have never switched classes.
"They just get curious to the point where they can’t handle themselves, and they just have to ask," Matt said. "It happens a lot at the airport or other places with lots of people.
"People ask, ‘Hey, have you guys ever switched classes, or switched girlfriends?’ Part of the reason I’ve never wanted to was so I wouldn’t have to keep telling stories about it."
Nik and Matt were given the gift of speed, but Collins is impressed by how hard they work. Both are committed to the weight room and work year-round to improve speed and quickness. Both are capable of bringing the entire team to its knees in laughter, and they are excellent students.
Opposing defenses know that if you focus on stopping one, the other will break your back.
"We argue a little bit about whether we should throw or run," Nik said. "But, it’s nice to be doing different things. I wouldn’t ever want to compete with him for a starting job."
Right now, neither brother is worried about carries or catches. They just want to win three more games. Then they can fight about who gets to hold the state championship trophy first.
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