Wright making a big impact for ‘Cats
THREE RIVERS — There was a time when Austin Wright wouldn’t hit people.
When that happened Three Rivers football coach J.J. Wagner would let Wright know about it.
“Austin has come a long way. I used to give him a hard time about not coming up and hitting people on defense. But this season he’s taken that to heart and done a much better job doing that,” Wagner said.
“His coverage skills have really improved. He’s grown up a lot.”
The 6-foot, 170-pound Wright has played an integral role as a starter at defensive back for Three Rivers, which takes a 6-2 record into Friday’s Wolverine Conference game at home against league rival Vicksburg (7-1) in the fourth annual Swinebone Game.
Kick-off time from Armstrong Field is 7 p.m.
If Three Rivers wins, the ‘Cats and Vicksburg would tie for second place in the final league standings. The ‘Cats have already qualified for the playoffs with its six wins.
Wright has 18 tackles to go with a pair of interceptions, two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles this season.
Wright will play a critical role Friday defending Vicksburg’s starting senior quarterback Brenden Lovell and senior receiver Blake Rankin.
“Going into my senior year I was just hoping for a starting spot at cornerback. The team has really built me up and the more tackles I have made its really boosted my confidence,” Wright said.
“Our defense really communicates well on the field. Once we get fired up you really start rolling with it. I’m looking forward to Friday’s game with Vicksburg. It’s a big rivalry. Their receivers are good and real big. Our secondary has made a big difference, especially with Sam Hawkins out there. He knows all the plays.”
Other key players for Vicksburg, whose lone loss came against Edwardsburg 44-7, include junior tailback Garrett Ketelaar and senior linebacker Matt Holman.
“It should be a lot of fun Friday night. It’s the last home game for our seniors, its Parent’s Night and the battle for the Swinebone,” Wagner said.
“Vicksburg will throw the football around. They have a good quarterback and receiving corps. Defensively they are sound and will try to stop the run. Tom Marchese and his coaching staff have been there a while and they have things going well.”
Wagner was pleased with some things he saw out of this team in last week’s game against Edwardsburg despite the loss.
In both of Three Rivers’ losses this season to Plainwell (49-20) and Edwardsburg (38-0) turnovers have been a big culprit.
“Edwardsburg is a great football team. Not to take anything away from them and Plainwell, but we had around nine or 10 turnovers between those two games,” Wagner said.
Edwardsburg scored on all five of the turnovers it forced on Three Rivers last week.
“You can’t do that against a team of Edwardsburg’s caliber. I thought there were a couple drives where we really played well against their defense. This week we have to take better care of the football and continue to force turnovers like we did in the six games that we won,” Wagner said.
Three Rivers also features a spread attack. But the Wildcats have been more balanced this season between the running and passing game.
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