Every team in Lawrence County will start the 2019 season with a different starting quarterback than they had in 2018.
At Lawrence County, Ty Hutto takes over for Austin Blankenship, who holds every single LCHS passing record.
At East Lawrence, Hunter Letson returns from an ACL injury to lead the Eagles.
At Hatton, unless a younger guy steps up, Jasper Crumpton will start in addition to his middle linebacker responsibilities. A job he’s held for three seasons.
All those guys have different stories of how they ended up the starter, but they also all have one thing in common. They’re all seniors.
At R.A. Hubbard, however, it won’t be a senior taking snaps as QB1 on Friday nights. Rather it will be just a sophomore.
That sophomore’s name? DJ Wiggins.
Technically his name is Derrick, but he goes by DJ and this year, the Hubbard offense belongs to him.
Last year’s starter Bret Mason is still on the team, and while he is participating in practices, he’s still not 100% recovered from two offseason knee surgeries. Those surgeries were required after Mason went down on the second to last play against Falkville last year, which was the de facto region championship game. Ironically, it was Wiggins that replaced him for the last play. A freshman tasked with the job of trying to make a heave for the endzone to tie the game. That pass was intercepted and Hubbard didn’t win the region championship and senior Riely Evans, who played QB in 2017, stepped back into the role for the rest of the season.
But that was last season. Wiggins is now a year older and more ready to step into the role as QB (having a whole offseason to prepare instead of being thrown in for the past play will do that). Hampton has tabbed Wiggins as the Chiefs starting quarterback and he believes that Wiggins can take Hubbard to even bigger heights than their 8-3 mark a year ago. Wiggins in turn, is pretty excited to be the Chiefs leading man.
“It feels really good,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of pressure on me, but I can stay through. I’m getting to know my personnel and my teammates, getting to see what they like to do so I can get the ball to them.”
Obviously, Wiggins won’t be asked to be superman for the Chiefs as just a sophomore. Led by a stout front seven, the R.A. Hubbard defense could be as good as anybody in 1A, maybe even in North Alabama. And on offense, the running game will be just as strong as last year. As Hampton puts it, “As long as there is R.A. Hubbard, we will be able to run the ball.”
But last season, the lack of a real passing game was really the one thing that kept the Chiefs from being more than just good, but rather a championship contending team.
Hampton has put an emphasis on improving that part of their game this year, and that now falls at Wiggins feet.
“The passing game was a struggle last year,” Wiggins said. “But we’ve got a lot of talented guys that can catch the football. It’s up to me to find a way to get them the ball, and that’s what I’ve been working on.”
But when it’s all said and done, what Hampton really wants to see is the leadership from Wiggins that comes from being the man in charge of the huddle.
“I feel like I’m ready,” said Wiggins. “I’ve got some things I need to work on, of course, but I feel like I can be the guy they need me to be.”