By Rob Ludwig
Special to the Daily Sun
Tim Wright hears about the game all the time, almost nauseatingly so. It was Jonathan Gray vs. Tim Wright or Tim Wright vs. Jonathan Gray, depending on who you were talking to at the moment.
But all Wright remembers is a game lost. Forget the historic numbers the two prolific running backs compiled or the dazzling first half that set Cowboys Stadium ablaze with excitement.
Instead, it was a loss and Tim Wright absolutely abhors losing.
“I was just talking about that game with somebody yesterday,’’ said the Navarro College running back, referring to the 2010 Class 4A title game that Wright’s La Marque team lost to Aledo, 69-34. “I don’t mind talking about it, but in the end, it was a loss and I just don’t like losing a game, whenever, it happens.”
Many high school fans herald that title game as one of the most exciting in history, in part to Gray’s 323-yard, eight-touchdown performance. La Marque kept it close for a half thanks almost solely to Wright, who rushed for 202 yards and two scores and caught three passes for 54 yards and another TD. But as it has been for much of the last half decade, Aledo imposed its will in the final 24 minutes.
“It came down to who wanted it the most,” Wright recalled. “I was still pumped at halftime, but apparently not as much as some of my teammates. The team that wanted it the most won the game.”
Three years later, Gray is plying his trade at the University of Texas and Wright is leading the Southwest Junior College Football Conference in rushing with 1,085 yards and 16 touchdowns.
With Navarro closing the regular season Saturday at 1 p.m. at Tiger Stadium vs. Northeastern Oklahoma, Wright has the opportunity to set his own set of records as a Bulldog. He currently ranks sixth in single-season rushing, fewer than 220 yards from the 1,300-yard mark set by DePauldrick Garrett in 2010. He’s also within four scores from the TD record and with a lengthy postseason run, Wright could set career records in rushing and scoring.
But those records mean little to Wright if Navarro doesn’t run the table and earn a second-straight SWJCFC title.
“I think about our losses (Trinity Valley and Tyler) every day,” he said. “We are supposed to be playing for the championship (in three weeks). We’re healthy, for the most part, and we’re eager to keep winning.”
With starting quarterback Josh Greer (broken collarbone) at least another week away from seeing the field, Navarro will likely lean on Wright and backfield mate Cameron Washington, who combined for 54 rushing attempts, 284 yards and five touchdowns against Blinn last week.
It’s odd that Washington and Wright would find themselves in the same backfield. They knew little about each other before arriving on campus, though Wright was well aware of Washington’s exploits 200 miles away.
“All I really knew was he was the 3,000-yard rusher and I was the 2,000-yard rusher,” Wright said. “But now we learn from each other all the time. We see what holes are going to be there and talk all the time during the game. You’ve got to stay fresh and be ready when it’s your turn.
“I learned from watching Cameron about making that one stutter step and cutting upfield. I saw him do it on film, saw him do it against (Hutchinson) earlier this year and then I did it last week against Blinn (on a 59-yard scoring run).”
Kansas State, Baylor and Louisiana Lafayette are the early contenders for Wright’s services next season. After serving time as a backup to Tyler Middleton (Texas Tech) and Traylon Shead (SMU) last season, Wright says he’s built the necessary leadership and honed his on-field abilities to make that Division I jump.
“(The coaches) wanted me to work, to make me better last year,” he said. “I still had to prove to myself that I could play and continue to get better. Traylon taught me a lot about leadership. He was up all the time and always was getting the team going in the right direction. I’m working to be that guy the rest of this year and then next year when I move on to the next level.”