Why Azavia Wise is the 'Swiss Army knife' for Huntington football
At 5-foot-6 and 159 pounds, it's easy to miss Huntington’s Azavia Wise in most situations.
After overcoming a broken ankle and missing his entire junior season only to return and impact the Raiders on multiple fronts, coach Stephen Dennis understands the value of having Wise on the football field.
Wise played four games at wide receiver when Louisiana Tech commit Kendrick Rucker was not available, and he played in the defensive secondary against Evangel when several starters were missing.
Wise stepped in at running back against Neville when starter Demajah Riley was injured. He's also handling punting and kicking duties and serves as the backup for quarterback Kamron Evans.
You can expect to see him when the Raiders (9-2) play Belle Chasse (6-3) in the second round of the LHSAA Class 4A state playoffs on Friday night.
“Azavia’s our Swiss Army knife,” Dennis said. “He plays all three wide receiver positions with everything else he does. He is a leader and is consistent – you know you’re going to get his all every day.”
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The injury happened on the first day of preseason practices l when he went up for a ball and a defender fell on his ankle.
“I remember just rolling and my foot just felt weird - it kinda felt like I couldn’t stand up,” Wise said. “When everyone proceeded to surround me - just hearing everybody gasp and kind of feel sickened - seeing the looks on everybody’s face - I knew then it was bad.”
When he arrived at the hospital, Wise spent six hours waiting before he had his ankle popped back into place.
“I thought, ‘OK, I’ll be ready for Week 1.’ But I was told I would miss the entire season, and that hurt,” Wise said.
Wise was ready for track season and used that as a springboard to get his groove back under the direction of Nick Smith and Devin Washington. He worked with Washington on weekends deploying some rehab exercises and taking some essential equipment to his home. He’s accepted the role he’s been given and plays the game with reckless abandon.
“I know I may not be the same player I was before,” he said. “I kind of look at myself as a utility player. I’ve played just about everywhere this year.”
The Raiders are one of the highest scoring teams in the area, averaging 46 points per outing over the past six games despite getting shutout by Neville.
“The season has been amazing to me so far - I won my first playoff game and I feel the culture change, and I’m glad to say I’m a part of this” Wise said. “I’m thankful to be able to play football again. I just want to finish the goal.”
Jimmy Watson covers Shreveport-Bossier area sports. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @JimmyWatson6.