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Columnist
Fremd's Wright runs into the history books
By Marty Maciaszek | Daily Herald Columnist

Evan Wright

 

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Published: 12/3/2009 4:30 PM

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When Evan Wright was growing up he figured he would be doing his hitting and running on a baseball field.

He did play some pickup football games with next-door neighbor Chris Doloughty. But Wright didn't play a minute of organized football - not even flag football - until he came to Fremd.

"It was one of those things where I figured I'd give it a shot," Wright said, "and maybe I'd grow into it and like it.

"My main focus was baseball. Now it's completely changed to football."

With great reasons. Wright showed this year he could absorb the hits and keep running at a level with the greatest running backs in Mid-Suburban League history.

Yet, for all of his incredible numbers this season - 2,234 yards and 28 touchdowns on 370 carries - his primary interest was how it all helped make his team better. Fremd had one of its best seasons in school history as it finished 11-1 with a trip to the Class 8A state quarterfinals.

It all added up to Wright's selection as the honorary captain of the 2009 Daily Herald All-Area Football Team for Cook County.

"I wasn't really thinking about personal goals," Wright said. "I was thinking of doing what I can to help the team and what can I do to help us get to Champaign.

"That's the attitude I had all year and the attitude I think all of the guys had."

An attitude change just before the season started gave Wright the opportunity to thrive as the Vikings' offensive centerpiece.

Wright had displayed plenty of flashes with long dashes as a junior. He returned 3 kickoffs for touchdowns and scored eight times on just 48 carries at running back.

But Fremd coach Mike Donatucci said Wright "was kind of saving himself" during doubles. As a result he was benched by first-year assistant coach and former Palatine head coach Joe Petricca.

"From that point on he understood there had to be toughness to go along with his speed," Donatucci said. "The light went on just in the nick of time and after that he believed.

"We knew he was an athlete but we didn't know he was an iron man. Once he figured that out there was nothing he couldn't do."

What Wright did was set 13 school records. He made 200-yard games routine with a high of 303 against Conant.

And he even got a chance to show off his arm while playing wildcat quarterback in the postseason.

Along the way he made sure part of his routine was passing along the credit to his linemen - Notre Dame-bound Christian Lombard and seniors Mike Metzen and Mike Rumps and juniors Evan Schaeffer, Brian Bobek and Jack Konopka.

"Without them it's nothing," Wright said. "It doesn't hurt to have Christian, Brian and Jack, who are three Division I-caliber linemen."

Then again, having a former lineman in his dad Rusty certainly helped when it came to dishing out credit others deserved.

Evan Wright also credited his developing love of football to his dad. As for his speed, that came from his mom Virginia, who was a track sprint star at Wheaton Central (now Wheaton Warrenville South).

And he never slowed down despite a staggering amount of carries which according to IHSA records ranks sixth all-time for a single season. St. Viator's Brian Dunlavy set the record with 400 in 1988 and Schaumburg's Jason Hawkins is tied for second with 383 in 1999.

"Just the combination of speed and endurance and the pounding he took, usually as the season goes on those shots are going to take a toll," Donatucci said. "It's a tribute to his conditioning and physical and mental strength to be able to dig down and handle that."

Now Wright is looking to take those attributes to the next level. He said he's talked to Mid-American Conference schools such as Northern Illinois, Western Michigan and Central Michigan along with Northern Iowa, Illinois State and Western Illinois.

No one has made a scholarship offer yet but Donatucci said Wright will find the right fit somewhere. Wright plans to study physical education and would love to return to Fremd to teach and coach.

He has a pretty good handle on the recipe for success.

"I think why our team was so successful is we just gelled so good together," Wright said. "Nobody really cared what they had at the end of the night as long as we got the 'W.'"

A lot of memorable Evan Wright nights kept the "W's" coming for Fremd.

Past Northwest suburban all-area captains

2007: Mark Tolzien, Fremd

2008: Anthony Iannotti, Schaumburg