JACKSON TWP — Spotlight usually comes from achievement.
Recently, Seneca Valley boys soccer coach George Williams was recognized as the National Federation of State High School Association Boys Soccer Coach of the Year in Pennsylvania for the 2020-21 season.
“It goes along with having those great teams and the great seasons,” Williams said. “It's exciting to be recognized for what we were able to do.”
Last year's run would have to rank amongst the most memorable of those campaigns. In his 27th year on the sideline at Seneca Valley, Williams reflected on the title chase. His team went 17-1-1 and claimed both the WPIAL Class 4A title and the program's first-ever state championship.
“It was just an amazing story and an amazing group of young men,” Williams said. “It was awesome, from beginning to end.”
It became a routine for Williams to check his email every day to see if his team's activities were going to be cancelled due to COVID. The group of players were resilient, handling whatever was thrown — or kicked — their way.
“What I said every day was, 'We get to play today,'” Williams said. “No matter what, all we have to do or what we were allowed to do, the players were allowed to have a season, let alone get to go to playoffs.
“We definitely had some, we'll call them interruptions, along the way. We had a few games in the playoffs where we were missing a few guys for obvious reasons.”
Williams also picked up his 300th career win in besting State College in the state playoffs last November. He said the administration, athletic department, and trainers he's worked with have been great. Assistant coaches Jay Roman and Scott Stewart have been a large help, as well.
“I've been around for a long time,” Williams said. “I feel very thankful to have been able to work with every team here at Seneca Valley that I've been able to be with. Part of the reason I've been here so long is (that I've had) so many great players and so many great parents.”
Williams' program reached the state final in 2015, but fell short. The experience showed him the obstacles that they had to clear in 2020.
“That group helped me put it in perspective,” Williams said. “They were so happy and thankful to be able to get to that point. As a competitor, you want to win it all. You feel like, if you don't win it all, you didn't do anything. But we still were able to reach that far.”
Against Neshaminy in last year's final, the Raiders were in double overtime and Williams was preparing for a shootout. Then, Zack LaValle scored the game-winner in the 101st minute.
“At the moment we won, I couldn't quite see well enough whether the ball was going in or not,” Williams said. “When I saw the entire bench run past me onto the field, I figured, 'Yeah, it must've gone in. We did it.'”