Sports

Wilcox County didn’t win a second straight state title but Marshall had another strong season

ROCHELLE -- Nick Marshall didn’t walk off a high school football field the final time the way he wanted.

The Wilcox County senior quarterback hoped he would be clutching a state championship trophy when he played his final high school game.

That didn’t happen. Wilcox County lost in the state quarterfinals on the road to Wesleyan.

But that loss did little to dampen Marshall’s electric senior season. He finished his career as the state’s career passing touchdown leader with 102, 10 better than the previous record holders. He won one state championship and was named the AP Class A Offensive Player of the Year twice in a row. He is The Telegraph’s All-Middle Georgia Football Player of the Year for the second straight season.

“He’s just an amazing player,” Wilcox County head coach Mark Ledford said. “You’re not going to see very many guys like him.”

Marshall has put up impressive numbers throughout his three-year tenure as the Patriots’ starting quarterback, but he said the most important is probably earning the 36 wins he has as a starter.

“Winning the games is the most important thing,” Marshall said after a playoff win over Johnson County.

But Marshall’s gaudy stats are a big reason for those 36 wins. As a senior, Marshall passed for 2,728 yards and 41 touchdowns, which is tied for fourth most in a single season in state history.

He rushed for a career-high 684 yards and nine touchdowns this season, turning his ability to make defenders miss into a major weapon late in the season.

Marshall didn’t run much as a junior until Ledford turned him loose in the state championship win over Savannah Christian. Ledford made more of an effort to get Marshall’s running ability involved in the game plan. In the second round win over Johnson County, Marshall rushed for 181 yards and four touchdowns to go with his four touchdown passes in the 60-39 win.

“I think (Ledford) wanted to give me a chance to make some plays with my feet,” Marshall said. “I can make guys miss.”

He finished with six interceptions as a cornerback, the position he’s likely to play at the University of Georgia next season, and returned two of those for touchdowns. He played nearly every snap of every game as a senior. Unlike many of the other great players in the state, Marshall had the ability to influence almost every second of every game.

Marshall might return kicks at Georgia as well. He returned just one punt as a senior, and he took it back for a touchdown. Ledford said he didn’t let Marshall return kicks regularly because he needed to give him a rest.

Ledford said Marshall is likely to play most of the time at cornerback at Georgia. But he also said the coaches are open to moving him around to get the ball in his hands.

“They know what he can do,” Ledford said.

Before he goes to Athens, however, Marshall still hopes to win a state championship in basketball. The Patriots have lost in the semifinals the past two years. Marshall is a two-time all-state point guard.

“You just never know if you’ll ever see a guy this talented,” Ledford said. “Especially in a small community like this.”

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