Brandon Montgomery’s moves are stupefying.
“His elusiveness,” Wilson coach Don Clegg said, “has created a whole different dimension for our team.”
Then again, he is a Montgomery. Last season, Bethany Montgomery – graceful and an ankle-breaking herself – led Wilson High School to the Class 3A state girls basketball semifinals, and is now off playing at Eastern Washington University.
Younger brother Brandon Montgomery, a senior at Wilson, was thought to follow in her high-top sneakers.
Instead, in his first full season as a starter on the football team, Montgomery is quickly making opponents take notice of his jets and jukes.
As an outside receiver – and arguably the area’s most electrifying special-teams returner – Montgomery has scored eight touchdowns in four games and is averaging 234.3 all-purpose yards per game. The Rams are 4-0 in the Narrows 3A League.
Three of Montgomery’s scores have come on returns, a 91-yard kickoff return in the season opener at Decatur, followed by a 96-yard kickoff return and a 64-yard punt return against Bremerton.
He has caught four touchdown passes all from outside the red zone (26, 45, 58 and 64 yards). He even has a 40-yard reverse run for a score.
Montgomery has helped return the Rams to their big-play glory years of the 1990s. Wilson has scored 14 touchdowns on plays of 40 yards or longer already this season.
“From the sideline, we just set things in motion, and it is pretty much up to the 11 players out there to make something magical out there,” said Cameron Rodgers, a former Wilson linebacker who now helps coordinate the Rams’ defense and special teams.
“It is hard to keep a fast team restrained.”
The excitement around this program is hard to ignore. Players such as Montgomery, running back Isaiah Simpson and quarterback Julius Yates-Brown make it all go.
Montgomery is unique in that he impacts all levels of the field.
But first, friends had to get him hooked on the sport.
For years, Montgomery said he would come out for football. He always played pick-up games on the campus’ upper grass field. But when it came down to organized sports, he always chose basketball and track and field.
During the Rams’ fall football camp in 2012, Simpson and Jerell Gray visited Montgomery at home in a last-chance bid to persuade the teenager to join the team.
“They basically forced me,” Montgomery said with a chuckle.
He did not see much time at receiver behind Ben Matz. But by the fourth game, he was the team’s top kickoff and punt returner.
After getting a taste of it, Montgomery committed himself to the sport. He’s added muscle to his compact frame, going from 5-foot-7 and 140 pounds to 5-8 and 155. And every chance he got, he studied the best returners.
“All summer, all I did was watch football – on the NFL Network, on ESPN, ESPNU,” Montgomery said.
And after watching the likes of explosive NFL players DeSean Jackson, Tavon Austin and Tyrann Mathieu, he noticed one common denominator in their success.
“You need patience,” Montgomery said. “And then you need speed.”
Montgomery has shown all of that. And when it comes to taking on a defender, he displays the fluid hips of a disco dancer, the footwork of a tap dancer and the unbreakable will of a bullfighter.
“If you hit me, then I say – good job,” Montgomery said. “Sooner or later, I am going to run past you.”
One of his more exciting plays this season didn’t even result in a score against Shelton.
With Wilson pinned deep in its own end of the field, Montgomery came on as the punter. When he noticed the Highclimbers set up for a return, he corralled the snap and took off for the flat, breaking two tackles before he hit a crease en route to a long touchdown.
The play was nullified by a block-in-the-back penalty.
And the sequence, while exciting, caught the ire of the coaching staff on the sideline, including Clegg.
“He put the fake punt in before we did,” Rogers said. “He is one of those improvisational guys.”
Added Clegg: “It was met by a stare. We’ve had to tone him down. Part ... of learning the game is knowing when to do that.”
“It is unbelievable,” Clegg said, “how he can avoid people like that.”
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442