- Erik McKinney, ESPN Staff Writer
Two years ago, Damion Wright (Fontana, Calif./Jurupa Hills) was still learning the big picture ideas of the quarterback position. His eighth-grade season was the first time he lined up behind center, but the 6-foot, 185-pound sophomore said he liked what he experienced at the position, so he kept practicing there.
He jumped into the varsity lineup as a freshman, as he rotated in and took about 25 percent of the snaps to begin the season. But Wright won the starting job for the final seven games and hasn't looked back.
Now, Wright will head into Friday night's quarterfinal game against Redlands (Calif.) Citrus Valley as the unquestioned starting quarterback, looking to avenge a 28-21 loss against the Blackhawks to close the regular season, just two weeks ago. He said the preparation would be the same as it's been for every game since he began working as a quarterback.
"I'm going to go home and go over film," he said. "Tomorrow, I want to focus, try to remember my responsibilities, go on the field and execute."
Wright said his father, who played defensive back and wide receiver in college, has been instrumental in his success. But it's also been about logging hours, weeks and months at the position.
"Last year I was nervous every game," he said. "I started doing everything I could to prepare for games. I was watching film constantly, doing drills and trying to get my timing right. Now, I feel better because I know the plays and I know how to run the offense. Making plays feels natural now."
This season, Wright has thrown for 1,880 yards and 15 touchdowns against just four interceptions. He's added 688 rushings yards and 11 scores on the ground. College coaches took notice of Wright early on, and the sophomore received letters from schools such as California, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Stanford and UCLA. He said his father has spoken to several coaches, although Wright is doing what he can to stay away from the recruiting process at this time in order to concentrate on finishing the season. He added that he looks forward to attending a number of camps next spring and summer, as he attempts to get his name out there in the discussion of rising recruits.
While it is still too early for Wright to name leaders, two schools caught his eye growing up, in Arizona State and California.
"Cal because of their academic programs," he said. "And I like how they run their offense, that it's 50-50 run and pass. Arizona State, I've always liked the uniforms."
Wright will do what he can to continue leading his team through the playoffs, but his ability at the quarterback position is obvious.
"I think I do well making reads and throwing the ball," he said. "I'm a pocket passer, but I can get on the run and I read thing well, especially on the option. I can get it right every time."
3dTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney