WILLISTON — In his first two years of high school, running back Jarius Jenkins showed loads of potential for the Williston-Elko football team.

This season, the rising junior will be toting the pigskin for one of the Blue Devils’ Region 4-A foes, Hunter-Kinard-Tyler.

According to Blue Devil head coach Dwayne Garrick, Jenkins’ family moved to Springfield, which is only about 10 miles from Williston but is in Orangeburg County and also about 10 miles from H-K-T.

“Jarius without a doubt is special, but all we can focus on is the kids we’ve got, the kids that are there, and he’ll do great at H-K-T,” Garrick said. “As far as our plan and what we do, it’s not going to change what we do.”

Jenkins has been a force in the Blue Devils’ wishbone running attack since his freshman year, when he took over a heavy load for injured senior Kendric Salley and ran for more than 1,000 yards. As a sophomore, Jenkins earned All-Aiken Standard first-team athlete honors with a season that saw him rack up almost 1,600 rushing yards and more than 20 touchdowns. Williston-Elko won Region 4-A in 2012 with an 8-3 overall record, 6-0 in region play, and fell in the first round of the Class A, Division II playoffs to Ware Shoals. The Trojans went 8-5, 4-2 in Region 4-A, and ran all the way to the Class A, Division II Upper State championship game. The Blue Devils shut out H-K-T 42-0 in the regular season with Jenkins racking up 174 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.

While replacing Jenkins’ production will be a tall task, Garrick said the Blue Devils’ wishbone formation lends itself to several players being ready to carry the football at any given time.

“The good thing is we’re fortunate; we’ve got three, four or five kids that can play running back,” Garrick said.

He included Antonio Coleman, Faheem Richburg, Christian Sapp and Nate Cunningham in that group, with only Coleman and Richburg getting significant playing time on offense last year.

Garrick said that the team’s goals will be the same as always in 2013, seeking a region title and a deep playoff run. The Blue Devils’ region slate will include an Oct. 11 trip to play Jenkins and his new teammates at H-K-T, but Garrick said he didn’t plan on focusing on that game any more than the others.

“As long as I’ve been doing this, I’ve had several kids that transferred to other schools. You know you just treat it like another football game, and it’ll be a region game,” he said. “We know how good Jarius is, so we’ll have to go in and play well on defense that ballgame. It’s 11 people on the football field, so we can’t focus so much on just one player.”

Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.