UPPER DARBY >> Academy Park coach Jason Vosheski has seen his share of quality football players during his tenure in Sharon Hill. Senior All-Delco safety Teddy Wright ranks among the best.
“You could put him up there, I don’t want to say top-5, top-10 — I’d have to really think about it, but he’s really good,” said Vosheski. “When he wants to be really good, he’s really good.”
Wright’s play warranted his coach’s praise Friday night. In a 28-8 win over Bonner & Prendergast, Wright rushed five times for 133 yards and two scores. He also returned a fumble for a touchdown and set the tone for a defense that battered the Friars for four quarters.
“Tonight,” said Vosheski, “he was spot on.”
The turning point came in the first quarter when Wright performed his best Sheldon Brown impression. With Bonner at its own 21, Evan Raiburn floated a pass a little too casually to running back Joseph Hartley-Vittoria.
“I knew it was going to be some type of screen,” Wright said. “When I dropped back, he came up, and the ball was in the air for a couple seconds. It was in the air awhile. (I asked) should I go for the pick or the hit? So I went for the hit, and he caught it.”
Wright met Hartley-Vittoria just when the ball arrived. Give the Friar credit for holding onto the ball, because the impact shook even the caked-out turf at Upper Darby Memorial Field. It was a perfect, clean hit — a rare thing in modern football.
“(The coaches) taught me how to hit since I got here,” said Wright. “I just know what plays to take gambles on. That was a gamble play. Because I didn’t wrap up, I just went for a (big hit). It worked out well.”
Later in the second quarter, Wright caught Tom Millison with a similar tackle. By that point Academy Park was well on its way.
Taylor Moors connected Shymere Stroud for a 30-yard score to get the Knights on the board 3:26 into the first. Wright’s vicious hit followed before he turned a short field into six more points for the visitors.
On his next carry, Wright went 75 yards to pay dirt. Or given the conditions, dust.
“I knew there was one linebacker that could’ve made a play,” said Wright. “It was the middle linebacker. The hole was wide open for me.”
Academy Park led 20-0 at the half. But the Friars battled back. Hartley-Vittoria rallied from Wright’s impact to finish with 38 tough yards on the ground, including his club’s only touchdown. He scampered into the end zone from 11 out to energize his sideline.
“I take that third quarter like the rest of our season is going to go,” said Hartley-Vittoria. “We’re just going to fight. We’re going to punch teams. We’re going to keep battling.”
Things looked even better when Bonner made a defensive play of its own. The Friars knocked the ball loose from Demetrius Perkins’ hands as he neared the goal line.
Alas, the momentum was short-lived. Wright scooped up a fumble two plays later and put the contest out of reach.
It was the kind of game the Knights have mastered over the last few seasons — a hard-hitting, tough affair with the teams combining for nine fumbles. Academy Park’s defense made the difference yet again. It held Bonner to 156 yards of total offense. The Knights (3-0) almost dared the Friars to score on them.
“I don’t want to say it’s our kind of football, because I wish it wasn’t,” said a reluctant Vosheski. “I wish we were scoring a ton of points. But that’s what we’ve been doing.”
It’s worked so far, especially on a night that Moors excelled behind center. He finished 10-for-16 for 171 yards and a touchdown in what Vosheski called his best performance “in a long time.” Things are looking up for Academy Park, which should worry opponents. When you have Wright, you don’t need much more.