All-Metro: Wright led Rams to memorable year
WOODVILLE — Improving on last season’s 11-2 record would be a tall task for most first-year head coaches, but David Wright didn’t back down from the challenge.
When he took over as Wilkinson County Christian Academy’s football coach June 1, the message he gave to his players was quid pro quo.
“I told them if they want to win state and make it to the state championship game, it was going to take dedication from June 1 on,” Wright said. “If they give everything they have, I’ll give everything I have.”
Though they came one game short of a championship, the Rams finished 12-2 with a berth in the MAIS Class A title game. Because of WCCA’s accomplishments this season, Wright was named as The Natchez Democrat’s All-Metro football coach of the year.
“I’m deeply honored,” Wright said. It’s a pleasure to be acknowledged for my kids’ success and the team’s work. It’s a tribute to the kids dedicating their own lives and putting the work they did in practice to the test when it came to Friday night football.”
Prior to taking over at WCCA, Wright spent seven years coaching at Dacula High School in Gwinnett County, Ga., right outside of Atlanta. Wright was an assistant coach for Dacula’s Kevin Maloof, whom Wright credits for teaching him how to be a successful head coach.
“He taught me how to handle off-the-field issues, how to handle the parents and getting the kids to give everything they’ve got,” Wright said.
Wright’s philosophy was to prepare the players as if they were getting ready to face 5A or 6A teams in Georgia, he said. That began with a grueling offseason program during the summer.
“I had some doubters among the adults,” Wright admitted. “They weren’t sure the kids could do what I wanted them to. It was new, it was hard, but I wanted to prepare them for a hard season.”
After talking to some of his peers in Georgia, Wright said he learned of several good workout programs to utilize. What it ultimately boils down to, however, is how much the players buy into what the coaches are selling, Wright said.
“You can have good systems and good workouts, but if the kids don’t buy into who’s leading them, it won’t work,” Wright said.
As he reflects on the season, Wright said he regrets the Rams couldn’t take the state title game against Tri-County Academy, but he’s glad his players ultimately did buy into him as head coach.
“It stings that we played good enough to win that state championship game, but we couldn’t close the deal,” Wright said.
Even though the season is over, Wright said he still hasn’t stopped watching game film. He’s currently trying to put together highlight film for some of his seniors that want to play football at the next level. He’s also trying to get the word out about some of his juniors that may be looking to get recruited by colleges.
“I’m working as hard as I did during the season,” Wright said. “I haven’t let off the gas. I don’t know when that happens, and as a coach, I don’t know if it ever happens.”
Wright said he’s looking forward to next season, in which the Rams will return 16 starters.