Dwayne Williams is part of a spring/fall high school football ritual that happens at schools across the nation every year.

Don’t tell the Scotlandville High junior cornerback that. All that matters to Williams is that he’s earned a varsity starting position for the first time.

“I’m happy with how I’ve played,” Williams said. “After the spring the coaches pulled me off to the side and told me I’d done a good job with my coverages and I made some plays.

“That gave me a lot of confidence. It carried over to the summer and made me work even harder. I thought we did real well in our 7-on-7s and I feel like I got stronger and faster. I can’t wait for the season to start.”

Williams stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 175 pounds. After playing for the Hornets’ junior varsity a year ago, he’s excited about starting for the varsity. Williams has lofty goals, like helping Scotlandville advance to the Class 5A title game.

But the reality is this — players like Williams are the life blood of high school football. Every year seniors graduate and the next year new starters must step in. How well newcomers like Williams play will help determine how Scotlandville fares this season.

Williams, who attended Catholic High as a freshman and returned to his home attendance zone and Scotlandville a year ago, is one of six new faces on defense. He first attracted the attention of the varsity coaches and his teammates with his speed.

“That young man (Williams) has been doing a good job for us since the spring,” Scotlandville coach Eric Randall said.

Wide receiver Kaleb Harmon adds, “He (Williams) is really fast … that’s the first thing I noticed. He keeps getting better in coverage.”

Williams is eager to continue proving himself even after solid performances in 7-on-7 events held at West Monroe, Georgia, LSU and other sites in and around Baton Rouge.

“I’ve grown an inch and maybe put on five pounds,” Williams said. “I feel like I’m stronger and faster. The main thing I have to do is keep my mind focused on the game.

“The coaches are great. They’ve shown me some techniques for coverages that will make me better, but I’ve got to continue to work.”

Scotlandville defensive coordinator Sean Beauchamp didn’t know much about Williams because he was a JV player a year ago. That changed when Williams wound up in one of Beauchamp’s physical education classes last spring.

“His athleticism stood out right away,” Beauchamp said. “I could see how athletic and how fast he was. Then we played flag football and I saw a lot more.

“He was just a natural when it came to coverages. He was all over the field, making plays and interceptions. And I thought this guy is just going to be a junior? We’ve got something here.”

Williams didn’t disappoint Beauchamp in spring practice. As one of six new defensive starters, Williams continued to impress the Hornet coaches during the summer.

Beauchamp cites an instance from the LSU 7-on-7 weekend.

“We played West Feliciana and we had him cover the tall kid (Jazz Ferguson), who’s committed to LSU,” Beauchamp said. “Dwayne locked him down. His on-ball coverage was excellent and he was physical enough to keep him (Ferguson) from getting where he wanted to go.”

Learning how to play the run is one thing Williams must improve on, according to Beauchamp. Already he’s making progress.

“I try to get better every day,” Williams said.