Being a “good school citizen” is important to Manchester football coach Jim France.
France counts Ethan Wright as one who fits that mold and said Hunter Foster is another ahead of the 2019 high school football season.
A Duke University commit, Wright enters his senior season as one of the most decorated players in Manchester history. His greatest impact through three seasons has been as a running back, and this season he also is expected to line up at quarterback quite a bit.
“Ethan brings a lot of versatility because we can play him at wide receiver, we can play him at running back, we can play him at quarterback, and both he and Hunter are going to be on defense somewhere,” France said. “Ethan is a safety right now and Hunter is a defensive back, but that could change and they could both end up being linebackers.
“Ethan’s versatility is very important to us, and he will be returning kicks this year which he didn’t do last year. We are going to take full advantage of his skills, and he has a lot of skills.”
Wright and Foster shined last season as juniors as Manchester went 9-4 overall and 5-2 in the Principals Athletic Conference en route to a Division V regional final appearance.
“They are great examples for the younger kids to look up to,” France said. “They both work hard in practice and they go 110 percent and those younger kids see that. Hopefully, and I think it has, motivated the younger guys.”
Wright was the star of the team, scoring 258 points with 40 touchdowns and nine two-point conversions. He ran 280 times for 2,574 yards and 33 touchdowns, caught 23 passes for 411 yards and five touchdowns and threw a touchdown pass, and also contributed 136 tackles (36 solos), three interceptions and one fumble recovery on defense.
“I want to go out and keep winning like we were the last three years,” said Wright, who is 6-1 and 195 pounds. “I want to go out and be a leader, too, because when I was younger I had people to look up to on the team. They guided me through a season, so I want to be like that to the younger guys.”
Wright scored a single-season school-record 272 points as a sophomore to help Manchester (9-3, 7-0) win the PAC title and reach the Division V playoffs.
He totaled 287 carries for 2,468 yards and 32 touchdowns, and had 28 catches for 366 yards and eight touchdowns in 2017. He also had 122 total tackles (19 solos), four sacks, three fumble recoveries and one fumble forced, and had 228 yards and one touchdown on nine punt/kick returns.
Wright chose Duke over other scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Iowa State, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Toledo, Akron, Kent State, Ball State, Ohio, Bowling Green, Liberty, Indiana, Northwestern, Minnesota and Rutgers.
Foster scored 21 touchdowns (19 rushing) as a junior. He totaled 171 rushes for 1,333 yards and five receptions for 165 yards and had 98 tackles (15 solos).
“Hunter is very quick,” France said. “He is small [5-8 and 183 pounds], but he is strong and I think his advantage is that a lot of people are keying on Ethan most of the time, and we run a lot of counters and traps back with Hunter and he is a good enough running back and is as tough as Ethan. He might not have quite the speed that Ethan has, but he has got that quickness and he also is a very good receiver out of the backfield.”
France said swing passes to Foster were often successful last season, and that Foster is also a good blocker when either Wright runs the ball or the Panthers throw a pass.
“Ethan and I have been running together for the past three years, and that helps so much because of the connection between each other,” Foster said. “We have not had the same line throughout the past three years, so getting to know our linemen and what they are capable of is important.”
Wright and Foster are senior captains along with lineman Caleb Noirot and cornerback-wide receiver Jared Knight.
“They are good school citizens in school, so they are kids I think that the younger kids look up to as people,” France said.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the #ABJVarsity high school blog at www.ohio.com/sports/high-school. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MBeavenABJ.