Wright had the stuff

Published 12:40 am Sunday, March 22, 2015

Warren Central junior soccer player Nick Wright, 16, is the Vicksburg Post boys' Soccer Player of the Year. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

Warren Central junior soccer player Nick Wright, 16, is the Vicksburg Post boys’ Soccer Player of the Year. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

Warren Central star is Player of the Year

When he’s running down the field, Nick Wright is tracking things like a fighter plane’s radar.

He sees and accounts for the other team’s defenders. For his teammates. For the ball, and for any other variables that can change the situation in a heartbeat. If he’s on his game, that’s when something magical happens for Wright.

Everything comes to a stop.

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Time often seems to stand still when Warren Central’s junior midfielder gets the ball. He’s a threat to score on his own or set up one of his teammates for a shot. He’s in total control.

It’s that ability to slow the game down and excel that makes Wright a great soccer player, as well as the best in Warren County this season. He tallied 11 goals and 11 assists to lead the Vikings to a 12-6-3 record, and claimed The Vicksburg Post’s boys soccer Player of the Year award.

It’s the sixth time in seven years that a Warren Central player has won the award.

“It means a lot to me, because I never got a player of the year award before,” said Wright, a four-year starter who has scored 30 goals in his high school career. “It’s an achievement, another goal I reached.”

Although he seems able to slow things down on the soccer field, Wright rarely stands still. He’s a three-sport star who also plays football and tennis for Warren Central. As the Vikings’ kicker, he went 9-for-10 on field goals and 37-for-40 on PATs last football season.

Soccer is Wright’s passion, though, and his best sport. He’s been playing it since he was 3 years old and moved up to WC’s varsity roster in eighth grade.

Wright showed a scoring touch early in his career by scoring 10 goals as a freshman. He netted seven more as a sophomore, then showed he could pass as well as score this season by racking up both goals and assists. His combined total gave him a hand in a third of Warren Central’s goals.

“He’s like Jozy Altidore — big, strong and fast,” Warren Central coach Greg Head said. “He can hold the ball until we can push people up. He’s a target player. When we get the ball, he’s the one we look for.”

Head’s comparison of Wright to Altidore, the U.S. Men’s National Team star, is fitting. Both are big, physical players who use their size to control the ball.

Wright, though, said that’s only part of his game. He feels the mental side is the key to success, and what he’s worked the hardest to master.

“I don’t think it’s my size, it’s the thought process. If you can think and master the speed of the game — it’s faster than any sport — that’s the key,” Wright said. “You have to make sure nobody’s around you and figure out who’s making what run. You have to anticipate everything as you’re making your first move.”

Wright said his thought process starts during pregame warm-ups, when he tries to settle himself down and slip into game mode.

“Before a game, I try to get as calm as I can,” he said. “You can get an adrenaline rush and be too selfish. So I calm myself.”

There is a time when things speed up again, however, and it happened nearly two dozen times this year. It’s when Wright or one of his teammates scores a goal. That’s when the adrenaline rushes back in, and the man who can slow time has the time of his life.

“It’s probably one of my favorite feelings,” he said with a smile. “It’s all-out joy and excitement, and you run back to your teammates and everybody gets fired up.”

Vicksburg Post Players of the Year

2015 – Nick Wright, Warren Central

2014 – Chris Kurtz, Warren Central

2013 – Garrett Watson, Vicksburg

2012 – Chandler Bounds, Warren Central

2011 – Erik Chappell, Warren Central

2010 – Tim Hoeptner, Warren Central

2009 – Erik Chappell, Warren Central

2008 – Bowen Woodson, Vicksburg

2007 – Cameron Curtis, Vicksburg

2006 – Michael Cooper, Vicksburg

2005 – Michael Cooper, Vicksburg

2004 – Luke Sellers, Warren Central

2003 – Michael Head, St. Aloysius

2002 – Michael Head, St. Aloysius

2001 – Andy Gough, St. Aloysius

2000 – Chad Henley, Warren Central

1999 – Mark Titre, Vicksburg

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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