St. John Vianney High School’s Kyren Williams is known for helping the school’s football team to a championship, but he also reflects the faith foundation of the school and team.
On Dec. 19, Williams signed to play with the University of Notre Dame after committing to the school this past summer. He is scheduled to graduate high school early and enroll in January at Notre Dame, where he is leaning toward a major in business. “It’s a bittersweet moment,” he said of his last few days at Vianney.
Williams, who plays running back, wide receiver and safety in addition to punting, recently capped off his high school career by leading the Golden Griffins to their second Missouri Class 5 championship in three seasons.
Before he went to Vianney, Williams never talked about God and wasn’t a church-goer, though he always believed in God and felt as if he had faith but no meaning behind it, he said in an interview with Vianney’s director of communications. That changed after he came to the Marianist Catholic high school, taking religion class, praying three times a day at school and then going beyond that to praying each night before he goes to sleep.
“Coming to Vianney my freshman year changed my perspective,” he said in an interview with the Review Dec. 18. “Coming from a public school, I really connected with my faith.”
Though he isn’t Catholic, he expects his faith life to get even stronger at the Catholic university in South Bend, Ind. The faith foundation of the school is part of the reason he chose Notre Dame after being offered scholarships to play elsewhere.
A two-time Metro Catholic Conference player of the year and the 2018 Class 5 offensive player of the year, Williams established new school records for career touchdowns (112), career receptions (204), career receiving yards (2,696), career interceptions (13), points in a season (254), yards in a season (2,760) and tied the mark for interceptions in a season (eight).
He finished second in school history in career total yards (6,643) and career rushing yards (3,947).
Williams’ 112 touchdowns are the fifth most in Missouri State High School Activities Association history, his 698 total points rank sixth and his 204 receptions rank seventh.
Lineman Zach Lakamp, one of the “athletic apostles” for the team, agreed with Williams’ view of the importance of faith. Lakamp’s role included helping with prayers before and after practices and helping with Masses before games. It’s important to be motivated “spiritual-wise” as well as athletically, he said.
The role helped him fit in with the leadership of the team. Especially toward the end of the season and playoffs when the pressure built, it helped for the players to have a spiritual connection, Lakamp added. “The fact that we go to Vianney and we’re allowed to practice our faith is really helpful to us,” he said.
Vianney head football coach Paul Day called Kyren “a great kid” who practiced hard. was well-liked by teammates and was a good fit in a faith-based program.
He and his staff have clear expectations for players. “Our kids strive to be the best versions of themselves that they can be,” he said.
Losing a game is not failure, he said, it’s just teaches what they have to do better. “Our kids to a real good job of refocusing and reframing and being ready for the next opportunity,” he said. “We tend to play our best toward the end of the season.”
Vianney’s team and players provide lessons for all of us.
Kenny is a staff writer for the Review and a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Oakville.
Kyren Williams was sensational in his senior season with the Griffins. Williams:
• Racked up 2,760 total yards (2,035 yards rushing, 725 yards receiving)
• Scored an area-best 40 touchdowns.
• Completed two passes for 114 yards and a touchdown.
• On defense, he was credited with 66 tackles, eight interceptions, two sacks and two fumble recoveries.