Zed Williams had to change his game this year for the Silver Creek lacrosse team. Instead of being the finisher, he has become more of the creator.
But he is sure still racking up those points.
Williams, a junior who has been a first-team All-Western New York player as a freshman and sophomore and is being recruited by some of the nation's top college programs, has entered this year's postseason withing striking distance of the state's all-time points record.
Williams has 533 points for his career, just 20 behind all-time leader -- and one of the sport's all-time greats -- in Casey Powell.
"It's exciting," said Williams of possibly breaking the record, "but I just want to win a state championship, man."
Williams and the Black Knights (15-1) will try to win their fourth straight Section VI Class C championship when they take on Akron (14-3) at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at All High Stadium. The team ranked second in the state in Class C is trying to surpass its historic feat from last year, when it became the first Section VI Class C team to win a Far West Regional and advance to the state semifinals, where it lost to eventual state champion Cazenovia of Section III (Syracuse area).
Silver Creek appears poised to make another deep state playoff run. Its only loss came April 27 at Orchard Park, 22-14, and it owns wins over Class B finalist Niagara-Wheatfield (17-16) and Class A semifinalist Frontier (22-6).
"I think we learned a lot from the OP loss and we've gotten better each game," said Williams. "I've learned a new role, everyone has learned new roles, and everyone is getting better every day."
The supremely talented Williams -- who is listed by insidelacrosse.com at No. 12 on a list of the nation's 50 juniors -- has taken on the role of the director of his team's offense this season. That was necessitated by the graduation of older brother Zach, an All-WNY first-teamer who led the Black Knights on offense, defense and in face-offs.
"There's no Zach, so it's not the same team," said Williams. "My role last year was easier -- this year it's harder, but I've just had to adjust. Zach was our general, our quarterback, and he was our leader and no one ever questioned him. This year, we didn't have that role. I guess I'm trying to take it -- but I can't do it as well as him."
Orchard Park coach Gene Tundo might argue with that.
"He is special at all aspects of the game," said Tundo. "He plays probably 90 percent of the game, shoots with both hands, has great eyes. He's not just a great shooter -- he finds the open man, he's very unselfish. We had to double-team him, so it left people open and the other kids score when you're doubling him. It's kind of pick your poison. Where do you want to get hurt more? Because you're just not going to stop a guy like that.
"Late in the game, we were winning some faceoffs, and then he came in and took them. He's going to get you somewhere. He's a great player."
One of this year's changes for Williams is that he runs the offense from behind the cage. That draws the attention of the defense and maximizes opportunities for him to find teammates.
"We've got him behind the net so he's turning six defender's heads at all times, and the guys capitalize on that by cutting to the middle," said Silver Creek coach Bill Brennan. "Last year we had Zach and we pretty much ran our offense through him. Zed has bought into the system of him being a feeder. [Senior Brandon] Brooks probably has 20 more goals than Zed this year. He's such a smart lacrosse player at finding the slide and dumping the ball -- and they're finishing. I think we're a better team offensively because of it."
In Silver Creek's one-goal win at Niagara-Wheatfield, Brooks and senior Frank Brown each had five goals while Williams had four. Other threats to score for the Black Knights are sophomore Marvin Curry and Zed's younger brother, freshman Sherman Williams.
"I like it [behind the cage] because I get the ball, it's one-on-one, so I can beat him or I know the slide is coming so I can dish for an easy shot," said Williams. "We've got goal scorers. I don't really care if I don't get mine, as long as we win."
Williams has racked up points ever since he played as an eighth-grader (99), adding 174 as a freshman and 155 last season. He has 105 this year.
Williams has been offered scholarships by Virginia, Syracuse and Albany. Brennan said SU coach John Desko watched Williams play in Silver Creek's regular season-ending, 31-1 victory over Lew-Port. Ohio State recently called asking if Williams could visit.
"I'll probably visit some more schools and probably commit in the fall," he said. "It's good to have options. You have to live up to the hype -- you have to keep working hard, which I'm trying to do."
TABLE: NYSPHSAA CAREER POINT LEADERS
1. Casey Powell (Carthage, 1991-1994) 553
2. Zed Williams (Silver Creek, 2009-present) 533*
3. Lyle Thompson (Salmon River/Lafayette, 2007-11) 511
4. Nicky Galasso (West Islip, 2006-2010) 500
5. Jim Zaffuto (Elmont, 1974-1977) 498
6. Mike Powell (Carthage, 1997-2000) 496
7. Thomas Grimm (Carthage, 2007-2011) 490
8. Joe Resetarits (Hamburg, 2005-2008) 463
9. Casey Donegan (Corning East, 1987-1990) 441
10. Ryan Powell (Carthage, 1993-1996) 429