It’s all Wright

With senior transfer quarterback Cedric Wright leading the way, Washington snapped an 0-3 start and got back to business in the Public League.

  • Everybody got into the action on offense for Washington last weekend, even lineman Zaire Hollerway, who took a carry at the Furness 8-yard line and barreled down to the goal line. QB Cedric Wright scored on a short run on the very next play. PHOTOS BY BILL ACHUFF AND MICHELLE ATKON / FOR THE TIMES

  • Off and running: Washington quarterback Cedric Wright, formerly of Germantown High School, accounted for four touchdowns in the Eagles’ first victory of the 2013 season. PHOTO BY BILL ACHUFF AND MICHELLE ATKON / FOR THE TIMES

  • Well guarded: Behind a stout offensive line, Wright (No. 3) wasn’t in trouble all day against Furness. In three opportunities at the 1-yard-line, the Eagles’ quarterback converted all three for short touchdown runs. PHOTOS BY BILL ACHUFF AND MICHELLE ATKON / FOR THE TIMES

At 0-3, the sky wasn’t ne­ces­sar­ily fall­ing for the George Wash­ing­ton foot­ball team. After all, the losses were all at the hands of for­mid­able non-league op­pon­ents, and the rest of the Eagles’ di­vi­sion hadn’t fared much bet­ter through the first three weeks.

That said, with the fi­nal score read­ing Wash­ing­ton 42, Fur­ness 8, as the Eagles opened up Pub­lic League AAAA Gold Di­vi­sion play on Sat­urday in South Phil­adelphia, head coach Ron Co­hen didn’t mince words.

“Let’s put it this way: we needed it,” said Co­hen, who in his 29 years as Wash­ing­ton’s head coach has seen just about everything. “The team needed it, the coaches needed it and the pro­gram needed it. The kids came through. They went out there and played foot­ball.”

In the Gold Di­vi­sion, the only team that won a game through the first three weeks was Cent­ral. Wash­ing­ton, Frank­ford, North­east, Fels and Fur­ness went a com­bined 0-15, and not many of those were close. Ac­cord­ing to Co­hen, the 0-9 start for the big three of Frank­ford, Wash­ing­ton and North­east to open the sea­son is a first. Thus, while out­siders may have thought the Eagles were cooked, those in­side the pro­gram knew nev­er to pan­ic. 

With di­vi­sion play ar­riv­ing, it was busi­ness as usu­al for Wash­ing­ton against Fur­ness. Re­ceiv­er Has­san Brock­man re­turned the open­ing kick­off 85 yards for a touch­down and hauled in a 48-yard touch­down pass, and quar­ter­back Cedric Wright had three 1-yard rush­ing scores in a game that was a blo­wout from the start. Ac­cord­ing to Wright, a trans­fer from the now-shuttered Ger­man­town High School, the Eagles just needed to come to­geth­er and get their swag­ger back.

“I think in the be­gin­ning, we wer­en’t very dis­cip­lined and ba­sic­ally every­one was about them­selves,” Wright said. “Per­son­ally, I real­ized I had to be more of a lead­er. I talked to my team and said we can’t play one versus el­ev­en. That’s im­possible. We needed to come to­geth­er and play more dis­cip­lined. You saw the res­ult. We just balled out.”

Wash­ing­ton, up 35-0 at half­time, even in­sti­tuted the mercy rule on Fur­ness, with the clock run­ning con­stantly dur­ing the second half. In ad­di­tion to fi­nally mov­ing the ball on of­fense, the Eagles’ front four of Kev­in Ab­rok­wah, Dawayne Young, Tyr­one McNeil and Zaire Holler­way were spec­tac­u­lar in smoth­er­ing any­thing Fur­ness threw their way. With the de­fense keep­ing Fur­ness from do­ing any­thing, in turn the of­fense, led by Wright, run­ning backs Ak­inyeli “Ken” Ever­age (11 car­ries, 78 yards) and Bruce Smal­ley (four car­ries, 70 yards), and the dual threat of Brock­man (three catches, 69 yards, TD) and Rasheed Black (one catch, 39 yards) at wideout ran free all af­ter­noon. Even Holler­way — all 280 pounds of him — barreled for a 7-yard run down to Wash­ing­ton’s goal line, just barely miss­ing out on a touch­down.

Wright, who threw for 1,149 yards and nine TDs for Ger­man­town last sea­son, passed just four times on Sat­urday, but he made smart de­cisions whenev­er the ball was in his hands. In fact, Wright played a pretty per­fect game, com­plet­ing all four of his passes for 107 yards and a TD while run­ning three times for three yards, all of them scores. Pair­ing him with seni­or John San­tos, an­oth­er QB who was out against Fur­ness with a con­cus­sion, has the Eagles feel­ing con­fid­ent with who­ever lines up un­der cen­ter.

“This game was us let­ting the Pub­lic League know that we’re com­ing,” said Wright, who also con­sidered en­rolling at Frank­ford and Im­hotep fol­low­ing Ger­man­town’s clos­ure. “Coach al­ways tells us you need to set the tone at the be­gin­ning of the game and carry it through un­til the end. After Has­san re­turned that kick, we just felt un­stop­pable.”

Co­hen likened Wash­ing­ton’s bust-out per­form­ance to “a snow­ball com­ing down a moun­tain,” and it was hard to ar­gue. Aside from some silly pen­al­ties late in the game, the Eagles were a well-oiled ma­chine, one they hope to un­veil to Cent­ral at home on Fri­day af­ter­noon (3 p.m. kick­off). The Lan­cers, sur­prised by Fels last week­end in a 26-13 de­feat, will cer­tainly be ready.

“They’re a good foot­ball team, and they’ll cer­tainly be in the mix,” Co­hen said of Cent­ral. “The Pub­lic League is a strange one. On any giv­en day, someone can sur­prise you. I think it’s up in the air for any­one to grab.”

Co­hen is hop­ing that doesn’t hap­pen at home on Fri­day. Wash­ing­ton’s of­fense, which is now run by former Frank­ford of­fens­ive co­ordin­at­or Rasheed Muhammad, seems tail­or made to fit the style of the play­ers in­stalled in the sys­tem. If Wright re­ceives strong block­ing up front, it can open up holes for Ever­age, or buy the quar­ter­back more time to find an open re­ceiv­er. 

And des­pite be­ing the new kid on the block, Wright has not shied away from step­ping up as a lead­er. As a quar­ter­back, he real­izes that the team will go wherever it is that he leads them, so he is try­ing to set a strong ex­ample. At prac­tices, he’s the one who is al­ways bel­low­ing, “On the hop,” ur­ging his team­mates to hustle on every play and whistle. 

“I think that’s every quar­ter­back’s re­spons­ib­il­ity, to be a lead­er,” he said. “If I do something wrong, the rest of the team will fol­low that, and the same goes for do­ing the right thing. I’m new here, so they might not have ex­pec­ted me to step up, but I’ve been on them to make sure we have this thing down pat.

“Coach al­ways tells us, ‘Prac­tice how you play.’ It pays off and shows dur­ing a game. If you don’t play hard in prac­tice, then you won’t be pre­pared in the game. If we clean up the men­tal mis­takes we some­times make, we think we can be a very good team. We want to fight for that num­ber one spot (in the di­vi­sion).”

Luck­ily for the Eagles, those three losses by a com­bined 56 points mean little in the grand scheme of things. Frankly, they can be dis­carded right out the win­dow. As Co­hen noted, “We star­ted 3-0 last year and we didn’t win (a cham­pi­on­ship).”

“First thing’s first, we can’t take this win for gran­ted,” Wright said. “Just like against Fur­ness, we want to set the tone early as soon as we step on that field on Fri­day. It’s go­ing to be a good game. I think every­one is look­ing for­ward to see­ing what we’re made of, and we’re go­ing to let them know.” ••

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