Greeneville's Trevor Wright (1) lines up a tackle on Elizabethton's Ethan Thomas in Friday's playoff game.
When he was a sophomore, Trevor Wright followed in the seniors’ footsteps on the path to a state football championship.
Two years later, the Greeneville senior is trying to repay in kind.
“He’s a great leader,” said Greene Devils’ head coach Caine Ballard. “He’s a team captain, voted on by the players and supported by the coaches. He’s bright, and a fine young man.
“He is very much respected by the other players. If someone gets out of line, he grabs them and sets them straight. As a coach you love to have those guys, especially one of your best players.”
Ballard said Wright, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound free safety and wide receiver, is the first one out of the locker room on practice days. And when the day is done, he’s the last one off the field.
Wright comes by that work ethic naturally. His mom taught him a thing or two.
“My mom showed me what hard work is about, working three jobs to provide for us,” said Wright, who has received a scholarship offer from ETSU along with several other Division I-AA schools. “There’s not a lot of people who have a mother like I have. I thank her every day. I don’t know how she does it.”
Wright has enjoyed a dominant season, including five interceptions with two of them going all the way back for scores. He also has 28 receptions for 649 yards and eight touchdowns, and has racked up 1,052 all-purpose yards.
Also, Wright has averaged 44.3 yards on kick returns with a score, and 22 yards on punt returns with a touchdown.
Greeneville was coming off its first Class 4A state title when Wright was installed as a starter at free safety. He said the pressure was pretty intense as folks talked about the possibility of a repeat.
“I was definitely nervous,” said Wright. “I was the lone sophomore, and everybody was seniors. But once we got into the season, I was comfortable playing with them.”
The Greene Devils pulled off the back-to-back accomplishment, but Knox Fulton ended their hopes of a threepeat last season with a resounding victory in the second round.
“They had big plays and their running backs got outside and broke off big runs,” said Wright.
This year, Fulton again stands in the way. The Falcons will play host to Greeneville in Friday’s state quarterfinal contest.
Many people view Fulton as the favorite, but Wright said his team isn’t worried about that.
“We definitely believe we can beat Fulton,” he said. “This is our fourth year in a row playing them, and we know what it takes to beat them. This year we’ve got to limit their speed and keep them from hitting big plays.”
Leadership is part of the reason Wright thinks his team can keep going.
“There has been a big change in leadership this year,” he said. “We’ve got good seniors, and they are all hungry to get back to Cookeville. Last year we thought we were hungry, but we didn’t play like it.”
Ballard is a big part of the formula for success, said Wright.
“He came in and led Greeneville to the state championship, and gave the team high expectations,” said Wright. “He’s a great man, and he cares about each and every one of us as players and students. He wants us to succeed as men.”
Wright said he hopes to also succeed at the next level, whether it’s at ETSU or the other schools he’s received offers from: Chattanooga, Furman, Wofford, Campbell College and Tusculum. He has already qualified with a 22 on the ACT.
“I think at the I-AA level, all those guys have made the statement he will be an impact player right away,” said Ballard. “Once he gets in the weight room and focuses on that, and they add 15 pounds on him, he has a chance to be really good at that level.”
But first things first.
“I’m just focused on getting this team to the state championship,” said Wright.
And through it all, Wright’s family has his back.
“My parents have helped me a lot,” said Wright, who is also a standout for the Greene Devils’ basketball team. “My dad has been there all of my life.”