A baseball player at heart, Brett Wright can kick it into high gear on the football field, too.
The Sequim High School senior was just named to the 2013 Associated Press’ Washington All-State football first team as its all-purpose/kick returner.
He found out from his football and baseball coach Dave Ditlefsen on Dec. 20 in sixth period English class. Moments later classmates gave him a round of applause.
“It feels pretty cool, I guess,” Wright said. “I’m trying not to make it a big deal.”
But coaches and writers took notice of Wright who returned two kickoffs for touchdowns this year with the first in the season opener against New Westminster (B.C.), and in a shootout on senior night against North Mason.
But the scores weren’t necessarily what earned him the honor, said Rex Lott, Sequim special teams coach, but his yards after contact.
“I don’t recall him being brought down by the first person that hit him all year and he was running hard all the way until he hit the ground,” Lott said.
Not once did Wright run out of bounds without contact, Lott added.
“He always initiated contact prior to going out of bounds and laid a pretty good lick on someone before he went out of bounds or was brought down in the open field,” he said.
This season, Wright also was a standout receiver with 52 receptions for 669 yards and five touchdowns. He even broke the school single game receiving record against North Mason on senior’s night with 17 catches for 218 yards.
This season he also earned all-Olympic League second team at wide receiver and for a winless 0-10 Wolves squad, he turned in a constant effort, coaches said.
“Brett is one of the toughest kids at our school,” Ditlefsen said. “You can see that when he plays. He has a strong desire to win and a competitive edge.”
Lott said opponents all had access to footage on Wright and they all tried to stop him but had a hard time doing it.
“Word of mouth is what got him selected (to the all-state team),” he said.
Wright excelled at special teams early on and finds it freeing in some ways.
“Punt returns and kick returns in my opinion are one of the funnest things because you have all this space,” he said.
His style, Wright said, is similar to Sequim grad Tyler Forshaw, who made the all-state 2A squad as a defensive back in 2011, and that Forshaw was someone he looked up to on the field.
Lott said his advice centered on making one cut and sticking to it.
“I’m not a big dancing guy,” he said. “Hit the hole and hit it hard.”
Ditlefsen seconded that.
“He heads north and south running hard,” Ditlefsen said. “In baseball and football, he does everything full speed.”
For special teams, Lott emphasized that if Wright caught the ball cleanly he’ll have more opportunities. They also watched a lot of film looking for opponents’ weaknesses.
But a big difference this year, Wright said, was caring more.
“Junior year, I didn’t think I was very good. When I was a freshman and a sophomore, I thought I was good in J.V. but I didn’t do well when I started playing varsity,” he said. “I did a lot more in the offseason and lifted a lot more weights. I cared.”
Wright has played football since he was little after the urging of his cousin and before moving to Sequim as a freshman, he played a number of positions. Here he dedicated himself to receiving and special teams for the Wolves.
The winless season didn’t get Wright down. “I played to have fun,” he said.
His senior season was almost cut short. While playing safety, Wright was injured on Homecoming night against the Olympic Trojans on a tough defensive play. He was diagnosed with a strained neck.
He remembers riding in the ambulance to Olympic Medical Center feeling depressed thinking his season could be over. But Wright recovered and chose to sit out the next two games as precaution.
He soon made up for lost time with his monster game with the school record.
Hitting the diamond
This winter, Wright stopped wrestling to focus on baseball for the spring.
Last year, he was named as an all-league honorable mention for hitting .415 with a .475 on-base percentage and stealing eight bases for the Wolves who finished 5-11 in the Olympic League and 7-11 overall.
His goal this year is to play well enough for first or second team honors and the team to improve its record. But what will that take? Wright said strong leadership that starts with him as one of the seniors.
For the football team’s chances after he leaves, Wright sees them definitely turning it around next season behind quarterback Miguel Moroles.
“Miguel was the best leader on our team. He was never absent and always worked hard,” he said.
“The senior class, while not real deep on their number of players, we saw some good quality among them,” he said.
Academic life beyond Sequim seems likely for Wright who is considering between Central Washington and Western Washington University. He’s not ruling out sports but education comes first, he said, which he’ll likely pursue a career to become an architect.
But for now he’s drawing up plans for all-state baseball honors.
Other area athletes named to the All-State Football teams include Kingston senior Aaron Dickson (2A first team, linebacker), Port Townsend seniors Jacob King (1A first team, defensive back), Skyler Coppenrath (1A second team, defensive line) and Matt Cain (1A second team, linebacker) and 11 players from Neah Bay on the 1B list, including State 1B Player of the Year Josiah Greene.