WAYNESBORO, Miss. (WDAM) - If there’s anyone who knows what a talented runner looks like, it’s Shelton Gandy.
The second-year Wayne County head coach rushed for more than 6,000 yards in three years at Waynesboro Central High School.
Gandy believes Zhakerreun “Phat” Wesley is the real deal – and yes, “Phat” is his real nickname.
“When I was little, I used to be fat,” Wesley said. “I used to try to run the ball with the running backs and stuff, playing pee-wee and middle school. And I just became skinny.”
Wesley may have grown out of his nickname “Phat,” but he still lays some heavy blows to any defender in his way on the football field.
The senior quarterback mowed down a few more in Friday’s win over East Central – carrying the ball 15 times for 174 yards and three second-half touchdowns, including a 57-yard score in the fourth quarter.
Wesley’s carried the ball 102 times for 778 yards and six touchdowns this season.
“He’s got those big tree trunk legs,” Gandy said. “Since I’ve gotten here, he’s been just phenomenal. He’s a phenomenal athlete. I can’t say enough about him. He always shows up in big games. He’s just a heck of a player.”
“It starts off with the [offensive] line,” Wesley said. “They’re good for run blocking. They’re a powerhouse and we run behind them.”
A three-year starter at quarterback, Wesley’s learning how to beat his competition with more than just brute force. He runs the read-option with precision.
Combining Wesley’s leadership on offense with a feisty defense makes the War Eagles a tough team to stop.
“We’re a strong team,” Wesley said. “We played other teams to help us prepare for this moment. Like Laurel, [we] went to double overtime. It’s been a pretty good journey.”
“[Last year], there were a couple times we had some adversity in games, we kind of folded,” Gandy said. “We didn’t come back and respond in the second half. This year’s been totally different. They believe in each other and [Wesley’s] got a lot to do with that. As long as we’re getting better every week, I really feel good about our chances.”
Wayne County (5-2, 3-0 region 4-5A) visits Pascagoula on Friday at 7 p.m.