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AHSAA Spotlight

Contributed

Jacksonville High School junior Rontarius Wiggins broke the 1,000-yard rushing mark in just the fifth game of the season Friday night – and wrote his name in an exclusive list of shareholders in the AHSAA Record Book in the process.

Wiggins eclipsed the 400-yard mark with 409 yards on 21 carries and had five total touchdowns as the Golden Eagles of Coach Clint Smith downed Cleburne County 55-33. The top rushing performance in the state this season thrust the Jacksonville standout into AHSAA Football Spotlight for Week 4.

Wiggins scored four rushing touchdowns on treks of 18, 75, 4 and 58 yards and tacked on a fifth converting a screen pass into an 80-yard TD score. His 409 yards is the 12th best all-time in AHSAA history, according to results reported for the AHSAA Record Book. He is also the first running back since Oxford’s Roc Thomas ran for 424 yards versus Spain Park in 2013 to reach the 400-yard mark. The state record (531 yards) was set by Tony Dixon of Parrish in an 81-58 win over Hubbertville 15 years ago in 2003. He had 21 carries as well.

Wiggins, who now has 1,184 yards rushing in five games this season, finished with 489 total yards counting his 80-yard TD reception. His 489 yards total offense also ranks 21st all time, tying quarterback Chance Ellsworth of Priceville, who had 489 yards passing in 2011. Wiggins’ performance ranks him third for running backs, however.

Cleburne County, which trailed 28-21 at the half, had an outstanding performance vs. Jacksonville as well with Isavia Brown compiling 409 all-purpose yards (including kick returns). Brown had 124 yards rushing, 63 passing and 222 yards on kick returns. He scored three TDs, one on a 33-yard run, another on a 31-pass reception and the other on an 86-yard kickoff return.

“It was pretty exciting,” Wiggins told East Alabama Sports after the game. “At halftime I came in and just looked at my phone, and I had gotten a tweet that said I had 258 rushing yards. That was surprising, and after that I just wanted to keep going. Then I was told after the game I ended up with 400-some (yards) and my mouth just dropped.”

Smith said he is not surprised by anything his running back accomplishes.

“There’s no doubt in my mind Ron is definitely one of the best running backs around her,” said Coach Smith. “I think he’s much underrated. He played extremely hard. … I’m proud of Ron and his accomplishments and some of the things he’s been able to do the last few weeks.”

Jacksonville quarterback Luke Jackson was also 9-of-20 passing for 160 yards.

Wiggins edged out two long-distance interception returns by R.J. Orr of Center Point and Austin Pruett of Cherokee County for this week’s AHSAA Spotlight.

Orr swiped a John Carroll Catholic pass in the middle of the Eagles’ end zone and raced 105 yards for a TD as Center point beat the Cavaliers 36-6. The 105-yard return tied for third longest in AHSAA history. Tommy Wilson of Demopolis set the record with a 108-yard return in a 49-7 win over American Christian in 2012.  Guntersville’s Kevin Gentle, better known for his 60-yard field made in 1993, returned a Dora pass 107 yards for a score in a 20-17 win in 1993. Damiean Archibald returned an interception 105 yards in a 66-18 Sipsey Valley win over Curry in 2014, and Jake Peavey had a 105-yard return in 2013 for Madison County versus Butler.

Cherokee County’a Pruett also had the fourth longest interception return in state history Friday night when he sped 103 yards for a touchdown in the final 20 seconds of the first half of the Warriors' 22-13 victory at White Plains.

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