Northeast Times

Washington kicker is Wright on the money

George Wash­ing­ton kick­er Jake Wright, also a base­ball star at the school, is hop­ing his boom­ing leg earns him a Di­vi­sion I foot­ball schol­ar­ship. ABI RE­IMOLD / FOR THE TIMES

Start­Frag­ment

High school foot­ball games are no­tori­ous for go­ing down to the wire.

In the stands, as the clock ticks to­ward zer­oes and a con­test hangs in the bal­ance by three or few­er points, it is com­mon to hear spec­tat­ors ask a re­l­at­ively simple ques­tion:

“Does this team have a kick­er who can ac­tu­ally make a field goal?”

In the case of the George Wash­ing­ton Eagles, the an­swer has been an em­phat­ic yes. Thanks to the strong leg of seni­or Jake Wright, the Eagles pos­sess a “something ex­tra” that lit­er­ally changes the strategies of op­pos­ing coaches.

“He’s an ex­tra weapon,” said Wash­ing­ton coach Ron Co­hen. “He’s a def­in­ite weapon.”

In GW’s 25-0 Fri­day night vic­tory over Pub­lic League AAAA Gold Di­vi­sion rival Ger­man­town High School at North­east’s Charles Mar­tin Sta­di­um, the Eagles im­proved to a per­fect 4-0, set­ting up a riv­et­ing show­down with also-un­defeated Cent­ral on Fri­day af­ter­noon. Seni­or quar­ter­back Dav­id Gav­rilov fired touch­down passes to seni­ors Mar­quis Ed­wards and Shaquon Al­len, while seni­or full­back Alex Rivera gained 91 yards on 10 car­ries.

On de­fense, seni­or D’An­dre Dunkley re­turned an in­ter­cep­tion for a score and Ger­man­town (2-2) was har­assed in­to two safeties.

Wright was three for three on ex­tra-point at­tempts and came close to a story­book per­form­ance (more on that later). The 6-foot-2, 195-pound­er landed three of his punts in­side the Bears’ 20-yard line, and two weeks ago against West Cath­ol­ic, he bur­ied three in­side the 11-yard line. And George Wash­ing­ton zealots un­doubtedly re­call last year, when one of Wright’s punts pinned Frank­ford in­side the three-yard line in the Eagles’ 20-13 Pub­lic League cham­pi­on­ship vic­tory.

Not too shabby for a kid who played vir­tu­ally all po­s­i­tions on the foot­ball field dur­ing grade school, only to take up kick­ing be­fore his fresh­man year.

“He’s one of those kick­ers who can do it all,” Co­hen said. “We’ve had sev­er­al really good kick­ers over the years, some that ended up with schol­ar­ships be­cause of it. I wouldn’t be sur­prised at all if Jake does the same thing.”

It’s not a sub­ject that has es­caped Wright’s fu­ture plans.

An ex­cel­lent base­ball play­er and former soc­cer standout who is also con­sid­er­ing the pos­sib­il­ity of try­ing out for the GW bas­ket­ball team this winter, Wright was a first-team All-Pub­lic League placekick­er as a ju­ni­or. He notched 32 points and, hav­ing already amassed 16 points in four games this sea­son, is a vir­tu­al lock to du­plic­ate such re­cog­ni­tion when foot­ball sea­son con­cludes.

For many hours each week, Wright prac­tices his kicks, both with the team and on his own. He watches col­lege and pro­fes­sion­al kick­ers and stud­ies the nu­ances of their craft. He is hop­ing that his ded­ic­a­tion and di­li­gence to an of­ten-over­looked area of high school foot­ball will in­duce a schol­ar­ship of­fer, par­tic­u­larly from a Di­vi­sion I col­lege pro­gram.

Per­haps even more im­port­ant than his work eth­ic is Wright’s men­tal ap­proach. Hav­ing con­nec­ted in pre-game drills on a wind-aided 55-yarder, Wright is con­fid­ent he can make a field goal from about 52 yards or closer.

While Co­hen isn’t about to com­mit to such a long-dis­tance boot in every game situ­ation, he said is “not afraid” to call Wright’s name any­time the Eagles ad­vance in­side the op­pon­ent’s 35-yard line.

Against Ger­man­town, Co­hen sent Wright out to try a 50-yard field goal at the end of the first half, but a Ger­man­town line­man was able to get his fin­ger­tips on the at­tempt. Later, with GW lead­ing 19-0 mid­way through the fourth quarter, Wright’s ef­fort on a 51-yard kick was wide left but ap­peared to have enough dis­tance.

“That’s a thrill,” said Wright, who made sure to men­tion the im­port­ance of long-snap­per Rivera, ju­ni­or hold­er John San­tos and the line­men who pre­vent him from hav­ing to rush his at­tempts. “Every kick is mean­ing­ful, but in high school, most coaches don’t trust their kick­ers to try something like that. It would have been great to make it, but at least I came away know­ing that I can do it in the fu­ture.”

If Co­hen was a bet­ting man, he knows where to place his chips.

“He’ll hit a 50-yarder some­time this sea­son,” he said. “Wouldn’t sur­prise me in the least. He keeps his leg fresh and he is men­tally pre­pared. I’m not afraid to use him and wanted to show him I have all the con­fid­ence in the world in him. The same goes for his kick­offs and punts. Look at what happened (against Ger­man­town) and the dif­fer­ence a (strong) kick­ing game makes.”

Co­hen was re­fer­ring to the afore­men­tioned pair of safeties that GW’s de­fense se­cured, aided mostly by Ger­man­town’s per­petu­al poor field po­s­i­tion and lim­ited punt­ing op­tions — one that in­cluded a botched kick that led to an Eagles touch­down.

“Jake is able to punt the ball very high, and most teams don’t have ex­per­i­ence with know­ing how to handle that,” Co­hen said. “You start adding these things up and they start mak­ing a big dif­fer­ence.”  

An out­stand­ing stu­dent and a mem­ber of the Na­tion­al Hon­or So­ci­ety, Wright also par­ti­cip­ates in George Wash­ing­ton’s Peer-Group Con­nec­tion, something he con­siders to be “a lot of fun.” His young­er broth­er, Luke, is a sopho­more at Wash­ing­ton and man­ager for the Eagles’ base­ball team; older broth­ers Jon (base­ball) and Zach (lacrosse) were also in­volved in ath­let­ics in their time at the school.

As a fresh­man, Wright be­nefited from the wis­dom and lead­er­ship of seni­ors who tried to steer all un­der­class­men in the right dir­ec­tion. Now, he is do­ing the same thing for some of GW’s im­pres­sion­able youth.

You can reach at jknebels@gmail.com.

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