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FALL ALL-AREA: Football Player of Year: Ubiquity defines Shegog’s season

WOLVERINES KEPT THEIR VERSATILE

TOP PLAYER FRESH FOR PLAYOFF PUSH

BY NATHAN WARTERS

THE FREE LANCE–STAR

How do you utilize a football player who can have an impact in every facet of the game? In the case of North Stafford head coach Joe Mangano, he minimized Anthony Shegog’s workload early in the season.

It was an interesting tactic, knowing that Shegog was one of the fastest and most physically gifted players in the state, but Mangano knew he would need Shegog for every snap at the end of the year.

“What I didn’t want to do was give him 20 to 30 carries a game in September, because we knew it was going to be a long year and we didn’t want him breaking down. I was really cautious of that,” said Mangano, who led the Wolverines back to the Group AAA, Division 5 state semifinals for the second straight season.

“He meant so much to our defense, as well. I was just really cautious not to overwork him, especially at running back. Running back, those guys take 20 to 30 carries a game and then start to lose a step come November, and I didn’t want that to happen.”

Sure enough, Shegog benefited from his limited carries at running back in the first couple of months of the season. By the time November came around, he was fresh and ready for a major starring role.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Shegog, The Free Lance–Star’s All-Area football player of the year, played almost every snap of the Wolverines’ three playoff games—including every down of their heartbreaking loss to Lake Taylor in the state semifinals—and was every bit the standout that earned him a scholarship to play at Virginia Tech next year.

In the playoffs, Shegog played tailback, where he rushed for 447 yards and five touchdowns on only 31 carries, wide receiver (six catches for 100 yards and three touchdowns) and safety, where he altered opposing team’s game plans just by his mere presence.

“We moved him around a lot. He has a real high football IQ. For him to be able to do that says a lot about his flexibility and durability,” Mangano said.

Shegog may have had a scaled-back offensive role early in the season, but his impact was still significant.

He played tailback, fullback, wide receiver, safety and linebacker, and he was pivotal on North Stafford’s offensive and defensive special teams.

Shegog scored 16 touchdowns, including two on defense and two on punt returns, racked up 1,111 total yards of offense, recorded 63 tackles, five forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, two interceptions and also blocked three extra point kicks.

He earned first-team all-Commonwealth District and first-team all-Northwest Region honors for the second straight season.

“I didn’t just want to play defense. I wanted to play wherever I could,” Shegog said. “They put me at all these different positions, and I tried to do my best and was able to excel. I just tried to help the team win, and it was real fun doing it.”

Mangano is unable to confidently say which side of the ball Shegog is most valuable on. At least twice this season—against Potomac and Battlefield—he chased down opposing ballhandlers heading toward the end zone and forced game-changing fumbles.

And he was in a different class offensively. Five of his eight rushing touchdowns covered 56 or more yards, including a 97-yard scoring run in the season opening win over Potomac. He also had scoring receptions of 41 and 51 yards.

“Where was he most valuable? I don’t know,” Mangano said. “As much as I want to say defense, I think the playoffs showed he was pretty valuable in big games when we needed him the most.”

Shegog, the younger brother of former Brooke Point and North Carolina standout basketball player Chay Shegog, says he was recruited by Virginia Tech to play defensive back, but Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster recently raved to Mangano about Shegog’s skills as a running back during a recent visit to Wolverines practice.

“[Foster] was really impressed by how smooth he was at running back,” Mangano said. “He was commenting and saying he didn’t realize how smooth Anthony was with his cuts.”

Could there be a scenario where the Hokies try the tall, thickly built Shegog at tailback?

The Hokies have been in search of a superstar tailback since David Wilson bolted early for the NFL last year.

“Well, if they really needed it, I would be up for the challenge,” Shegog said.

At 17, Shegog still has a lot of growing to do. Mangano said he envisions Shegog as the prototypical strong safety for Virginia Tech’s defense, but he could also see him getting bigger and becoming an outside linebacker.

Then again, Mangano does not want to rule out tailback at the college level for Shegog, either.

After all, this is a player who lined up at essentially every position this season without complaint.

“He just kind of adapted each week,” Mangano said. “That’s Anthony for you. That’s just how he is.”

    PREVIOUS FOOTBALL PLAYER

    OF YEAR RECIPIENTS

    2011—Ethan Preston, James Monroe

    2010—Tim Scott, Colonial Forge

    2009—Micah Cunningham, Chancellor

    2008—Dominique Wallace, Chancellor

    2007—Chase Barnett, Brooke Point

    2006—Lamar Stewart, Essex

    2005—Delano Green, James Monroe

    2004—Cordarrow Thompson, North Stafford

    2003—Nat Jackson, Massaponax

    2002—Thomas McClelland, Stafford,

    and Joe Taylor, Washington & Lee

    2001—Brandon Gore, Liberty

    2000—Cortez Thompson, Courtland

    1999—Chris Ashinhurst, North Stafford

    1998—Daniel Davis, Brooke Point

    1997—Daniel Davis, Brooke Point

    1996—Trell Parker, James Monroe

    1995—John Parker, King George

    1994—Andre Braxton, Caroline

    1993—Andre Braxton, Caroline

    1992—Juan Mack, North Stafford

    1991—Tim Webb, Spotsylvania

    1990—Rodney Woodward, Chancellor

    1989—Tim Bland, King George

    1988—Willie Johnson, North Stafford

    1987—Eric Bates, James Monroe

    1986—Tim Canada, Courtland

    1985—Sidney Coleman, Spotsylvania

    1984—Darryl Smith, Stafford

    1983—Charles Anderson, Courtland

    1982—Frankie Leake, Courtland

    1981—Charles McDaniel, JM

    1980—Charles McDaniel, JM

    1979—Kevin Poole, James Monroe

    1978—Johnnie Edmonds, Spotsylvania

    1977—Bruce Twyner, Spotsylvania

    1976—Ben Madison, King George

    1975—Woody Jackson, Spotsylvania

    1974—Steve Atkins, Spotsylvania

Nathan Warters: 540/374-5442

nwarters@freelancestar.com

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