When the game was over, no one on the Manchester Central sideline seemed sure of what they had just witnessed.
Central coach Ryan Ray knew running back Jesiah Wade had a big night, but said he had no idea Wade had just turned in a record-setting performance.
“What’s the state record for rushing in a game?” Ray asked after Wade numbers were totaled.
“I think it’s just under 400 yards,” came the reply.
“Not anymore,” Ray said.
Wade, a senior, rushed for 556 yards and six touchdowns on 31 carries during Central’s 56-35 triumph over Merrimack on Friday night.
“I was shocked,” Wade said. “I had no idea (what the rushing total was). I just wanted the win because a loss would have really hurt our playoff chances.
“Have to make sure I give credit to my offensive line. They did all they could and I just put my shoulder down when I got to the second level. It was too slick to be putting any juke moves on.
According to the National High School Record Book, Wade’s total is the 12th best all-time rushing performance nationally (in 11-man football), and the best rushing total ever recorded by a New Hampshire player.
“It was all kind of a blur,” Ray said. “I really had no idea where he was at in terms of yardage during the game.
“We weren’t trying to get him a record. We weren’t trying to to get him a big night. We were trying to do other things so they couldn’t just send 11 guys to get him, but he was our best option on every play call.
“He’s a pretty special player, and a great kid too.”
John Giannantonio of Netcong, N.J. holds the national single-game rushing record. He gained 754 yards against Mt. Lakes in 1950.
Giannantonio rushed for 4,756 yards in eight games that season. That total is the national record for yards rushing in a season.
Wade, who transferred to Central from Campbell High School in Litchfield after his junior season, led the state in rushing with 2,204 yards last season. He had six runs of at least 40 yards against Merrimack and ran for 319 yards in the first half.
“It was an unforgettable night,” he said.
According to the National High School Record Book, here are the top single-game rushing performances in 11-man football:
1. John Giannantonio (Netcong, N.J.): 754
2. Paul McCoy (Matewan, W.Va.): 661
3. Tanner Wood (Conway Springs, Kan.): 659
4. Tony Diaz (Paint Rock, Texas): 621
5. Ronney Jenkins (Oxnard Hueneme, Calif.): 619
6. John Bunch (Elkins, Ark.): 608
7. Rudy Rudison (Houston Marian Christian, Texas): 599
8. DeAndre Hooper (Chicago Austin Community Academy, Ill.): 593
9. Leonard Jones (Denver, Montbello, Colo.): 584
10. Monquantae Gibson (Louisville Moore, Ky.): 574
11. Cory Davis (South Park, Colo.): 564
12. Jesiah Wade (Manchester Central, N.H.): 556
13. Dallas Bernstein (Vallejo Bethel, Calif.): 555