Enquirer Herald

Wright carries York to quarterfinals tonight at Daniel

If things had worked out the way coaches planned, York running back Lee Wright wouldn't have nearly the kind of numbers he's compiled.

Fortunately for the Cougars, they have Wright to make up for their best intentions.

The junior running back has carried the Cougars into the Class AAA quarterfinals tonight at Daniel, and that he's done as much as he has can only be described as fortunate.

"The longer it goes, the more we're able to do in both phases."

While he's hardly alone at it -- Wright is careful to praise his offensive line like a good back should -- his numbers have moved the Cougars far beyond expectations.

They were 2-8 last season, and hadn't had a winning season since 2006. Now they're 9-3 and a win away from a possible rematch with South Pointe (which hosts Fairfield Central tonight).

First year coach Bobby Carroll admits this wasn't how he expected it to go, as he brought in coach Jason McManus from Troy University to install a fast-paced, no-huddle passing attack. The run game was supposed to be a complement, if not an afterthought.

"To be honest, we're still in the process of installing it all," Carroll said. "The timing and rhythm of the passing routes, the concepts of the offense, those are things that are going to take time.

"We're fortunate that we have a back like Lee, so we can rely on the run as much as we do."

Never has it been more evident than last week, when Wright ran 33 times for 234 yards and three touchdowns in the Cougars' playoff win at Wade Hampton. That kind of work load is more than most professional backs get, but Wright joked that after some ice on his knees, he was ready for more.

"During the game it didn't seem like that many" Wright said. "But I did wake up pretty sore the next morning."

"He was extremely sore after that one last week, but he hasn't missed a rep in practice yet," Carroll said. "He's just a tough kid who does things the right way. He's never missed a practice, never missed a weightlifting session.

"He's the kind of player you want to use as an example to others."

For the season, Wright has 301 carries for 1,745 yards and 24 touchdowns. That 5.8 yards per carry average indicates his explosive speed, but he's also tough enough to start most of those runs inside. But as his career progresses -- college recruiters are beginning to take more notice -- he might even have a role on the other side of the ball.

Carroll said in that respect, Wright reminded him of his former South Pointe quarterback Stephon Gilmore, the acclaimed cornerback at South Carolina.

"There's no doubt he'd be an excellent defensive player too," Carroll said. "Lee is just an exceptional athlete. He plays basketball and runs track, he runs a 4.4 40, there's not a lot he can't do.

"I have no doubt if we played him there, he'd be one of the best defensive backs in the state."

For now, Wright's simply enjoying the ride, never imagining the Cougars would still be playing football, never imagining he'd be within striking distance of the school records he's approaching.

"Last year, I didn't really think we had a chance to do any of this," Wright said. "But right now, who knows. I feel like our defense can stop any team's run, and we're playing well too. The line is playing awesome, and we're doing some things.

"We're pretty confident around here right now, but we've got to keep working."