By Patty Hullett

Daily Light correspondent

The roaring Lions of Ennis are still reeling from the proximity of dethroning the perennial Class 5A Division II state football champions last December. The EHS team had pushed the Aledo Bearcats to the breaking point at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco during last season’s regional final game.

One of the most action-packed games ever was held on Dec. 6, when Ennis went up against Aledo. The Bearcats won in overtime, 43-36, and Aledo again went on to take the state championship crown.

So, hungry are the Lions for their 2020 season to begin, as the "sniff" they got last winter has only heightened their insatiable quest for a possible state title, as fall football hopefully begins in a few weeks. The Lions are currently listed as the No.1 team in the Class 5A Division II ratings, according to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine.

And two of the Lions’ most-notable defensive contributors from last year are returning seniors Jarveon Williams and DeRyous Stokes.

"Over the past few months, both of these young men have been working hard," Lions defensive line coach Hank Hollywood says. "They have gotten bigger, faster, and stronger, and I think they are going to be a major part of the Lions’ success this year."

Williams, called "The Flash" or "Megatron" by his teammates, was a beast during the 2019 campaign. His domination on the field was immense, especially based upon his stats from the previous 2019 season:

Hollywood calls Williams "intelligent, explosive, and a naturally gifted football player." He continues, "This promising athlete has been playing varsity football since his sophomore year at EHS. He has so much potential that he hasn’t even tapped into yet. It will be exciting to watch him perform this season, as several colleges are already seeking him for possible scholarships next year."

Williams began his football career at age 10. When asked if his sport is part of his destiny, he politely says, "I honestly don’t know if I would call getting a few college offers a ‘destiny’ just yet. But, yes, it is very nice to know that some people are interested in me as a collegiate player."

He continues, "The most influential person in my life has always been my mom, Lajuana Sharp. She has gone a great job in raising our family. My father is Jarvis Williams, and I have four brothers: Keimodrean Flowers (age 19), Keimodre Flowers (age 18), Jordin Williams (age 14, 8th grade), and Jarvis Williams (age 17), who is also a senior who is moving up to the varsity team this season as a slot receiver."

Williams shares, "My main motivation to excel in football is my desire to move out of Ennis and try to make a better life for myself. I’m hoping a college scholarship will ensure my future success. Also, I want to make my mother proud of me, because she did all the fighting for us kids to have the best lives possible. I feel it’s now time for me to repay the debt for my mother’s care for my family."

"In my future, I see myself being someone who changes people’s opinions or visions on how they see things," says Williams. In addition, he explains, "I stay motivated to do my best in school and in football, as I want to be the kind of big brother to my younger siblings and to other people around town that are looking up to me as an example. This is the same way that I used some older Ennis athletes as role models for myself when I was growing up."

Also, when asked who Williams’ favorite teacher is at EHS, he quickly replies, "I would have to say my football line coach, Hank Hollywood, because he stays on me and pushes me to the limit – knowing that I can be greater than any task put before me."

Another big key to the Lions defense comes in the form of DeRyous Stokes. He is the son of Tim Stokes, his mother is MaTricia Johnson, and his only sibling is older brother DeMajae Jones.

Stokes admits that he has been loving the game of football since he started the sport at age five. When asked why he enjoys football so much, he replies, "It brings me to a euphoric state, where nothing else around me matters." His Lion counterparts have dubbed him with the nickname of "Stevie Wonder," perhaps because of his glasses.

His favorite role model in life was the late Bruce Lee, a Hong Kong / American actor, director, martial artist, martial arts instructor and philosopher. Here are a couple of Lee’s quotes that have inspired Stokes:

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. But there are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them."

And another of Lee’s philosophies is, "As you think, so shall you become."

Stokes says, "My own personal goal for the future is to be successful at whatever it is I choose to pursue in the days ahead of me."

However, right now, he is concentrating on his senior year of schooling and his final year of football. Stokes relays, "I am looking forward to getting a chance to play for my city one last season. At school, my favorite teacher that I really admire is my AVID teacher – Mrs. Curry. I can tell that she really and truthfully wants to see me and my fellow students succeed."

(Curry heads-up Ennis’ AVID program, better known as Advancement Via Individual Determination. It is a nonprofit scholastic organization that changes lives by helping schools shift to a more equitable, student-centered approach in the effort to better prepare each student individually to be a success at the college level.)

Coach Hollywood describes Stokes as "hard-working, determined, and passionate."

"I’m expecting even more effort from him this season," Hollywood said. "And, he has also been a part of EHS varsity football since his 10th grade. In addition, he has multiple college scholarship offers already, with more expected to come later in the year."

In conclusion, Hollywood says, "Both Stokes and Williams are great kids and they deserve all the recognition that they can get. They are outstanding players that hope to leave their permanent marks on Ennis’ football history books."

Hollywood also noted his other defensive line standouts for his 2020-2021 roster: defensive tackles Christian Benavidez, Clayton Jenkins, Lazarus Becks and Octavious Johnson; and defensive end Michael Markgraf.

Other notable players are defensive ends X’Zavias Edwards and Sam Meeker as well as Brymond Speed, who plays both defensive tackle and end.

JARVEON WILLIAMS #90 – Defensive End

Total Tackles: 93

Tackles for Loss: 32

QB Pressures: 14

Sacks: 18

Caused Fumbles: 4

Fumble Recoveries: 2

Pass Break-Ups: 2

Big Hits: 1

DERYOUS STOKES #99 – Defensive Tackle

Total Tackles: 68

Tackles for Loss: 14

QB Pressures: 1

Sacks: 3

Caused Fumbles: 1

Fumble Recoveries: 1