E.A. Sports Today

King of the ‘Ville

Adding to a year of program firsts, Ron Wiggins becomes first Jacksonville player to earn a spot in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game

Ron Wiggins is on the verge of becoming Calhoun County’s single-season rushing leader. He has rushed for nearly 1,000 yards in the first four games of this year’s playoffs.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
JACKSONVILLE – Ron Wiggins’ week of the Super 7 started off in a super surprising way Monday morning. 
He got called to a brief meeting in the lunch room with the rest of the Jacksonville football team where principal Russ Waits congratulated them all on their historic season that’s not quite finished yet. Then he congratulated Wiggins for passing Mac Campbell on the county’s single-season rushing list.
Then came the big surprise. Waits and Golden Eagles coach Clint Smith presented the 6-foot, 180-pound senior running back with his jersey for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic.
“I was excited,” Wiggins said. “This was the second time they picked. The first time I didn’t make it. I wasn’t really too sad, but I felt like I could’ve made the team.
“Coach Smith surprised me this morning. He said he had the news Friday, but said he didn’t want to tell me (before they played Anniston in the semifinals). This morning during second period they called the team to the lunch room and he surprised me. I was just in shock.”
“It was a lot of fun and very well-deserving,” Smith said.
Wiggins was passed over when the team originally was announced, but is replacing Hueytown’s Roydell Williams, who won’t play because of an injury. In a year of firsts for the program, he is the first Jacksonville player to be selected for the game. This year’s game is Dec. 14 in Hattiesburg, Miss.
“He was right there in it (the first time),” Smith said. “There are so many good backs in the state and a lot of bigger schools … but you’ve got to think Ron has almost 1,000 yards in the post-season. They’re getting a good football player.”
Wiggins stands to get a lot of attention Friday when the Golden Eagles (12-2) play in the Class 4A state championship game for the first time in their history. They play two-time reigning state champion UMS-Wright (13-0) at 11 a.m. in Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.
In addition to his own natural ability, Wiggins has taken advantage of an improving offensive line that was considered a question mark at the start of the season. He ran for more than 2,379 yards and 34 touchdowns last year behind an experienced line and there were concerns whether he could have the same success behind a group that was less experienced.
His numbers were even better this year.
He has 2,656 yards and 46 touchdowns on 253 carries going into the title game. He’s gone for 953 yards and 19 touchdowns in the first four weeks of the playoffs. He needs 44 yards to set the Calhoun County single-season rushing record, set by Alexandria’s Chris Evans in 2005. For his career, he has 5,706 yards and 89 TDs.
Evans, who went to play at UAB and Samford, watched Wiggins play in last week’s win over Anniston and said he was impressed with the running back’s style.

Amazingly reliable, Wiggins has had only two fumbles in 650 career carries. 
“He’s special,” Smith said. “The things he can do with the ball in his hand, the acceleration, change of direction, burst of speed, the vision, he’s got all those boxes checked. He’s just a phenomenal running back. Whenever he gets it there’s every chance he’s gonna take it to the house.”
Wiggins pushed himself in the offseason to be better, but it’s been an across-the-board effort that has carried the Golden Eagles to their unprecedented success. He makes it a point to credit those senior offensive linemen — Omaurion Pope, Kenon Satcher, Demetrius Hamilton, DeAndre Sigler and “Sunshine” Brandon Heard – every chance he gets.
“They’re not young by age, just young by experience,” Smith explained. “They were thrown into the fire this year; most of them are starting for the first time.
“The thing about an offensive line is the longer you play with each other the better you get because they have to work in tandem and off each other and they just got better as the year went on. They take a lot of pride clearing a path for Ron. You’ve just got to give him a little wiggle room, a little space, and he can turn it into a big gain, but they’ve done an excellent job. Their progression has kind of sealed the way for him coming into his own.”
Friday’s title game will be a case of something having to give. The Golden Eagles are averaging more than 40 points a game, while UMS-Wright has allowed an average of six. They’ve outscored their playoff opponents 208-88. UMS-Wright has given up 89 points all season.
“Friday is going to be a real good and big experience playing on a stage as big as we’re playing on,” Wiggins said. “Being the first team to ever make it this far in school history, it’s going to be a pretty big deal, especially playing against UMS-Wright, the two-time defending championship. It’s going to be a great game.”

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