A cold rain is pelting the grass outside Hackett’s field house. As players scatter for home, Levi Wigginton settles into his seat and reflects on a life that’s spanned eight states and seven schools.
By the time the soft-spoken Wigginton enrolled at Hackett Middle School at the end of February 2010, he’d become accustomed to an American subculture of being an Army kid.
"You learn to adapt fast," he said. "You see more than other kids. It helps you grow up. For me, it made me strive to work hard. Seeing my mom and dad, and where they’re at in their lives, it makes me want to do better."
Wigginton’s road to Hackett included a few curveballs along the way, the biggest coming when his parents — Pattie and Larry — divorced when he was just 6. Although he spent the formative years of his life in Grove, Okla., Pattie Wigginton’s job with the U.S. Department of Agriculture took her and her son off the beaten path to places like Arkansas City, Kan., Seneca, Mo., Edgewood, N.M., and Santa Paula, Calif.
Wigginton attended four elementary schools and two junior highs before settling in at Hackett.
"It’s rough for a little while," he said. "But you get used used to it."
As summer gave way to the start of school, Wigginton admitted he was in no rush to start his final season of high school football.
"It’s gone pretty fast," he said. "You don’t want it to start, because you don’t want it to end. I come from a family where things are expected of you, but you want to do better.
"As a kid, my dream was to play college football."
At 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds, letters from Division-I football coaches aren’t exactly piling up on coach Eddie Ray’s desk. Then again, the veteran Hackett coach sees in Wigginton what he sees in most veteran Hornets — a kid who has paid his dues.
"Levi has a passion for football," Ray said. "He has a great work ethic. He’s quiet, but he sets a good example for the younger kids."
The Hornets, who carry a modest three-game winning streak to Mountainburg on Friday, are finally beginning to gel as a team. Injuries and inexperience, not to mention three opponents — England, Hector and Magazine — with an cumulative win-loss record of 14-4, attributed to an 0-3 start.
A junior, Wigginton has carried more than his share of the load, rushing for a team-high 513 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
"I think our biggest problem was we lost a lot of guys from last year," Wigginton said. "We had a new group move up and once we fixed the little things, we were on the right track."