All-Delco Football: On both sides of the ball, Wright got it done

SHARON HILL >> Teddy Wright used to plead with Academy Park coach Jason Vosheski to give him the ball.

Wright was a sophomore when he first cracked the Knights’ varsity roster as a first-time safety.

“I was horrible,” Wright said. “I’m not going to lie.”

The coaching staff believed he could be an excellent defensive player. Wright, though, played on the offensive side of the ball with the Sharon Hill Ramblers youth organization. In his heart, Wright was a running back.

Academy Park’s Teddy Wright excelled on both offense and defense for the District 1 Class 5A champions this season. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

As Wright blossomed into an All-Delco defensive back in 2015, helping the Knights claim their second District 1 Class AAA title in three years, he led the county with nine interceptions. Wright had established himself as a tremendous defensive playmaker.

But he never stopped scratching that itch to be a running back.

“Since I was a sophomore I’ve been telling (Vosheski) that I’m a running back,” Wright said. “He would say, ‘I know you are, but it’s not your shot yet.’ We had guys like Duke (All-Delco Jermaine Wesley) last year and Jeremy (Dembry). Last year, Vo gave me one carry and I scored in the Penn Wood game.

“I told him, ‘Hey Vo, I told you I’m a running back.’”

Vosheski reminds Wright that he actually received two carries as a junior.

“He forgets that,” he said. “The other one went for a loss.”

Wright was determined to be one of the Knights’ workhorses while also living up to his standard of excellence on defense. He played linebacker and safety in 2016 but got his shot at running back alongside fellow All-Delco Dazhon Miller.

READ: The All-Delco first-team defense

Wright exceeded expectations in his senior year.

“For some reason I didn’t feel like I earned it last year,” Wright said. “This year I came out and wanted to win something as a senior, to really feel like I was a big part of something.”

Without Wright, it’s difficult to imagine Academy Park winning two straight District 1 championships.

Academy Park’s Teddy Wright intercepts a pass by Marple Newtown quarterback Anthony Paoletti in the fouth quarter as the Knights advance to the district final with win over Marple Newtown Friday night. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

For his extraordinary abilities as an all-purpose player, someone who can play linebacker or defensive back, running back or wide receiver, and anywhere on special teams, Teddy Wright is the 2016 Daily Times Player of the Year.

Wright was an All-Delco defensive back last year and all-purpose defensive pick this season. Joining Wright on the All-Delco defensive team are linemen Rob Monachello (Garnet Valley), Kenny Ngaima (Penn Wood), Togba Porte (Academy Park) and Justin Shields (Springfield); linebackers Jack Farrell (Haverford), Ryan Gricco (Ridley) and Brian Snow (Episcopal Academy); and defensive backs Connor Adams (Interboro), Joe Kennedy (Springfield), Jermal Martin (Academy Park) and Justin Santilla (Cardinal O’Hara).

Offensively, All-Delco spots went to quarterback Anthony Paoletti (Marple Newtown); running backs Dazhon Miller (Academy Park), Chris Thomas (Interboro) and Malik Twyman (Haverford School); receivers Cameron Mathes (Marple Newtown) and Jordan Mosley (Haverford); and offensive linemen Quentin Frangelli (Interboro), Des Holmes (Cardinal O’Hara), Chad Hrivnak (Garnet Valley), John Sheldon (Ridley) and Chris Thomas (Interboro).
Ridley’s Brock Anderson and Wright were selected for their all-purpose abilities, while Jacob Buttermore (Garnet Valley) is the specialist.

Wright is the second player from Academy Park to earn Player of the Year honors, joining Jerry Lanier, since 2013.
Vosheski said Wright is among the best players he has ever coached.

READ: The All-Delco first team offense

“I’m not going to rank them, but he’s easily top-five and maybe even top-three,” Vosheski said. “Teddy is someone with very high football intelligence. What he lacked in other areas he more than made up for it with his IQ and natural ability. … We knew early on that he could be a special player.”

Wright has a big personality and loves to talk. He’d chat with reporters on the sideline before or during games, or smack-talk opposing players. Wright has no problem running his mouth.

“(Vosheski) hates when I talk trash and he talks about being humble,” Wright said. “I know that’s important, but talking trash to other teams, speaking out, it gave me the confidence to be the player that I am today. I do it for myself, really. It brings out my character.”

Wright and Miller were the top running tandem in Delco. Wright amassed 1,233 yards and 11 rushing scores and Miller finished with 1,653 yards rushing and 19 TDs. The platoon worked wonders for Academy Park, which went 13-2 and captured the District 1 Class 5A championship, the third district title for Wright and his fellow seniors.

“Me and Dazhon played defense, so we both gave each other a breather at times. I didn’t care if I didn’t start, all I cared about was contributing to the team,” Wright said. “I made a couple of goals for myself, like getting a certain amount of yards rushing. We both were competitive with each other, but then he started beating me in yards, so I said, ‘You got it, it’s yours.’ I wasn’t going to catch him. I said, ‘Go catch Chris Thomas.’ He almost got him, too.”

Miller was second in rushing in Delco to Thomas, who had more than 200 yards on the ground in Interboro’s win over Academy Park for the Del Val title.

“Chris Thomas is a great running back. He’s one of my guys,” Wright said. “I respect him a lot.”

That loss to Interboro was a wake-up call for the Knights.

“We wanted the undefeated record so bad, but as we moved on and reached the playoffs, we realized that game really helped us,” Wright said. “It made us go harder and get better. We were lacking and overconfident against Interboro. That game made us a whole lot better and really brought us closer together as a team.”

Wright scored three defensive touchdowns. He made 100 tackles with four pass defenses, four caused fumbles and three fumble recoveries. In the Knights’ dominating district semifinal win over Marple Newtown, Wright ran for two touchdowns. He battled injuries during the district final win over Springfield and the state semifinal final to Archbishop Wood.

Wright added that he wanted to win a title for assistant coach Mike Ewing after Ewing’s brother died in November during the Knights’ playoff run.

“I’m glad we were able to win something for Coach U,” Wright said.

Wright attributes part of his success to former teammate and good friend Clarence Buchanan, who was a two-time All-Delco defensive back.

Wright is drawing interest from several PSAC program. Vosheski sees him playing safety in college.

“I never would take football seriously when I was young, but that’s something I had to learn,” Wright said. “Coach Vo, Coach Buech (defensive coordinator Chuck Buechler) and Coach U gave me a chance and I thank them for it. I had so many people influence me and give me a kick that I needed.”

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