LATHAM — He was on the Shaker football team’s sideline during its Week 1 win at Guilderland, and Jovani Wiggs said he again plans to be with the Blue Bison when they play rival Shenendehowa in Clifton Park at 7 p.m. Friday.
“It’s Shen week,” Wiggs said. “That’s a big game for them.”
It’s “them” because Wiggs is not a member of this year’s Shaker squad. He starred early last season as a sophomore running back, but broke his right leg during the Blue Bison’s Week 4 win against Shenendehowa. In not-quite four full games in 2018, Wiggs scored nine touchdowns, and his combination of speed and power provided several highlight-worthy scoring runs.
If he had played this year?
“I think he’s the best player in the area,” Shaker head coach Greg Sheeler said.
Wiggs, now a 16-year-old junior, isn’t playing this season so that he can focus on baseball, a sport he hopes to play professionally. While last year’s injury — and a recovery from it that lasted well into the spring after a late-winter setback — played a role in Wiggs’ decision not to play football this year, Wiggs said his decision to sit out this fall season had more to do with his baseball ambitions than health concerns.
In fact, the 6-foot-2 Wiggs hasn’t ruled out making a return to the gridiron as a senior.
“Next year’s a maybe for me,” said Wiggs, a talented outfielder who plays travel baseball with the South Troy Dodgers.
Sheeler said he respects Wiggs’ decision and enjoys having him on his team’s sideline as a supporter. Last year, Sheeler said the toughest aspect to his team’s loss of Wiggs from its lineup was the ability to have his personality prominently in the mix for a team that won a Section II Class AA title, anyway.
“Jovani is a really popular player and a great teammate,” Sheeler said. “When he got hurt, it was tough for our kids to understand that they weren’t going to play with him anymore.”
Wiggs said it “hurt,” at times, to watch last week’s game from the sideline, but that he’s excited for this week’s game. Besides the matchup being between two 1-0 rivals, Wiggs said seeing the two squads play again will provide a sense of closure for himself.
“Personally, I have such a desire to be on that sideline for this one,” said Wiggs, who said he’s still deciding if he’ll play basketball this winter. “I feel like I need to see that game.”
While he won’t score any touchdowns Friday, Wiggs said it’ll be a thrill for him to be with his former teammates as they take on Shenendehowa.
“I love being with them,” Wiggs said.