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Vasha Hunt / AL.com Wetumpka's Tyquan Rawls (6) looks for a receiver against Bessemer City.

While trailing 63-21 late in the fourth quarter against Spanish Fort, Wetumpka quarterback Tyquan Rawls knew his high school career was close to an end. Both teams were in the midst of bringing in the reserve units but Rawls got one final play with some of his fellow starters.

Rawls broke through the defense with a 50-yard run to move Wetumpka inside the 10 for his final play of the season. Indians coach Tim Perry said it was a fitting way for Rawls to walk off the field one final time in Wetumpka.

“When we called that play, we just wanted to give those guys one more snap,” Perry said. “For him to break loose like that was great. And the most special thing to me was how he conducted himself when he saw the other quarterback coming in and he realized it was his time.”

That final run gave Rawls 1,368 rushing yards; he finished with 15 touchdowns on 242 carries. He led Wetumpka’s offense on the ground and through the air as he stepped up in his second year as the team’s starting quarterback. Rawls is the Elmore County Offensive Player of the Year.

“I can’t say enough about what kind of kid he is,” Perry said. “We’re talking about a kid we asked to move positions pretty much full time from where he was getting looked at to play college to where his team needed him. And he worked so hard to improve as a quarterback because he wanted the team to be successful.”

Rawls was always going to be a threat in the rushing attack but he worked on his passing skills as he got his first full offseason as the first-team quarterback. The work paid off as Rawls made big plays through the air week after week.

Wetumpka had a strong group of receivers it wanted to use this season so Perry often called more passing plays than he has in the past. Rawls finished with 1,864 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and a 50.3 completion percentage.

“To do what he did last year then come back and improve as a quarterback is remarkable,” Perry said. “He was more comfortable with the offense. He got a lot better at reading the coverage and more confident throwing the ball down the field. We needed him to do that.”

More than one opposing coach said the game plan against Wetumpka started and ended with slowing down Rawls, which he took it as a sign of respect. After being a Class 6A Back of the Year as a junior, he knew he was going to get more attention from opposing defenses but he still found success.

“He was a little bit under the radar his junior but coming in this year, all of those schools we played knew about him,” Perry said. “Teams had to scheme him and game plan around him. That speaks to the payoff for all of his hard work. Other coaches really respected him and his talent.”

On the defensive side, Rawls recorded five interceptions while playing limited snaps in the secondary. He often came in to help the defense in third down situations and late-game scenarios at defensive back where he is expected to play in college.

Rawls is expected to sign a college scholarship on National Signing Day in February. He already has offers from Troy, UAB, Central Michigan and several others with others expected to be on the way.

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.