Local football players break school records
by Erik Spencer Hill
The excitement of the football season has come to an end for local teams. It is that bittersweet time of year when coaches start hanging up the pads and helmets. But, this is also the time of the year when coaches and football statisticians start reviewing the stats to see what accomplishments were made through the season. While none of the area teams made it far in the playoffs this year, several standout players broke records.
This was linebacker Zack Manley’s final year with the Wildcats. In his two years playing varsity for West Stokes, Manley proved his mettle and became an adept linebacker and asset to the Wildcats’ defense. In West Stokes’ final game this season against Andrews, Manley had 12 tackles alone.
Over the season, those tackles can really add up.
Manley broke the record for the number of tackles in a season with 169 tackles. He also broke the school’s record for career tackles with 331 tackles. The previous record was 310.
“When I came here, I knew that would not be an easy record to break,” he said. “I wouldn’t have accomplished it without my defensive coordinator, coach [Steve] Whitt. He’s a defensive genius.”
Manley also said he could not have achieved his record for career tackles without the work of the wonderful players around him. Manley said the team has a great defensive line, and he just “cleaned” up what they left behind.
Wildcats Head Coach Jimmy Upchurch said that he is proud of Manley’s accomplishment and the effort he has put into the team. “We are very pleased with Zack’s playing this year,” he said. “He grew into the leader that we needed him to be.”
Uphurch said that Manley breaking the school’s record for career tackles was a nice surprise to end the season. “That was a record I didn’t think would be broken,” he said. “It was one heck of an accomplishment.”
In addition to Manley, runningback Rashad Witherspoon had a great year, as well. Witherspoon, who is a sophomore, racked up nearly 1,500 yards rushing this season. In Upchurch’s words: “[Witherspoon] had a very good year.”
Manley said, “When we needed a big play, we handed the ball to him. He is just explosive coming through the hole.”
This was Zack Singleton’s final year playing for the Sauras. In four years playing for the Sauras varsity team, Singleton racked up nearly 400 tackles. With 387 tackles, Singleton now holds the career tackle record for the school. In just this past season, he led the team with 103 tackles.
Head Coach Jonathan Frasher said that Singleton has talent that you just can’t coach. “He trusts what he is reading and goes in and gets it,” he said. “You can’t take credit for a kid that has a great sense of football.”
Year after year, Singleton got a read on those with the ball and brought them to their knees. In the words of Frasher, grabbing nearly 400 tackles in four years is simply “prolific.”
Jacquan Martin was another standout for the Sauras this season and broke several records. In his three years playing for the varsity team, Martin has grabbed close to 100 touchdowns for the Sauras.
Martin just keeps getting better and better. In this past season, he grabbed 32 touchdowns for the team, up from 21 the year before, and broke the season touchdown record.
“He’s an unbelievable talent,” Frasher said. “He’s a pleasure to coach. He has some of the best footwork I’ve ever seen.”
In this past season, Martin was a standby that helped the Sauras push down the field in game after game. Throughout the course of the season, Martin carried the ball 219 times for a total of 2,066 yards — no small feat for a junior.
And the best part of Martin’s career is that it’s not over yet. Martin will be returning to the team next season and will likely help the Sauras gain the yards needed to strike up more victories.
“I’m proud of what they [Singleton and Martin] have accomplished,” he said.
The Vikings had a tough year. They finished the season with a record of 4-8 according to MaxPreps.com. The Vikings may not have broke any major records this season, but a few Viking players were recognized for their accomplishments.
Dillon Rogers was an all-conference defensive selection. Matthew Hopkins and Garrett Wood were all-conference offensive selections. Jordan Manuel and Dustin Smith were all-conference honorable mentions.
*CORRECTION*: The article originally stated that Zack Singleton led the Sauras in tackles this season, actually it was Justin Rogers that led the team in tackles this season. Sauras’ Head Coach Jonathan Frasher said Rogers had about 120 tackles this season.
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