Homestead High School quarterback Jiya Wright had a great night throwing, running and directing the Spartans to a blowout win over Bishop Luers, so I went looking for the hook to his story.
Wright threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more in Homestead's 47-3 win over Luers on Friday at Homestead.
He's No. 18. This should be easy.
We'll find the back story there. No. 18, huh? Bet it's a Peyton Manning thing. Indiana boy. Quarterback. Story writes itself.
Wright wore No. 13 in middle school, then No. 4 as a freshman. Finally, as a sophomore, he took No. 18. This ought to be good.
“It was the only number that was really available,” Wright said. “Nothing really special.”
Now that's typical of Wright's night. I came at him, intending to go one way with the interview, and he sidestepped and went another direction.
So there's not a Manning back story, no jersey anecdote to tell. When I tried to get Wright to talk about his job quarterbacking a 3-0 team heading into a showdown at Bishop Dwenger next week, he tossed the topic to his teammates, much like he delivers the football.
“I just try to get the ball to our playmakers and watch them get plays and go celebrate with them,” Wright said. “It's been working out pretty well.”
I can't argue there.
Wright's passing touch was off twice in the first half, as he threw short on passes that were intercepted by Luers' Camdyn Childers and Jordan Presley. He didn't get shook. He became more precise.
A turnover-heavy first half (four by Luers, three by Homestead) turned Homestead's way late in the second quarter. The Spartans went up 17-3 on a scramble and 12-yard Wright touchdown run. Luers punted, and Wright found receivers three times on the next drive, hitting Trevin Taylor for the duo's second scoring connection of the game with 10.6 seconds left in the half. Their first score, a 50-yarder, opened the scoring.
Wright's second TD pass was perfectly thrown, right down the right sideline and hit Taylor in stride for a 25-yard score.
“That's where we started to get the edge,” Wright said. “That catch by Trevin hyped us up for the rest of the game."
Homestead's defense, keyed by upfront pressure from nose tackle Tico Brown and a pair of interceptions and all-out exuberance from cornerback Cameron Shannon, kept getting better and giving Wright and the offense field position.
“Our defense was killing it,” Wright said. “They've been killing it the last three weeks. Shout out to them. It's a reliever when you start on the other team's 30-yard line ready to score.”
Giving Wright field position is devastating. He completed 13 of 19 passes for 200 yards and rushed 16 times for 51 yards.
“He's a heck of a talent,” Luers coach Kyle Lindsay said. “You have a kid that can run the ball and he's very smart, you can tell, he's on top of his reads. Credit to him and his coach, his quarterback coach, Coach (Chad) Zolman, the whole staff. He has a big-time arm and he has kids who can catch the ball.”
Then there's the other quarterback in the Homestead backfield. Sophomore Jake Archbold lines up at tailback because Homestead is short on tailbacks – last year's star, Presley, is now at Luers and some others are injured. But Archbold is really a quarterback, the heir apparent to Wright.
So they run the option, and either quarterback can take it and bolt. Or pull back and throw.
“Having him back there is like having another brain out there, telling me what to do if I mess up,” Wright said.
Wright stepped into the Homestead lineup last season when starting quarterback Drew Keszei was injured. That was trial by fire. He passed with flying colors.
He then parlayed a strong camp at Northern Illinois University into a scholarship offer from the Huskies and committed to play there next season. It was a further shot of confidence.
“It really proved to me I was a DI (NCAA Division I) quarterback and good enough to do all the things I wanted to do,” he said. “Getting that offer really opened my eyes that I can do it.”
Wright can certainly do it, and his defensive teammates are putting the offense in great position. Look for No. 18 to keep making plays. There's no story behind that number, but he's representing it awfully well.
This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Reggie Hayes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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