HAMMOCK: Wright enjoys early success at small Mississippi school

Special Photo Collins Hill grad David Wright, in his first year at Wilkinson County Christian Academy, led his football team to a state runner-up finish in his first season as head coach.

Special Photo Collins Hill grad David Wright, in his first year at Wilkinson County Christian Academy, led his football team to a state runner-up finish in his first season as head coach.

Remember the leap of faith David Wright and his family took earlier this year?

The Collins Hill grad and longtime Dacula coach, deeply rooted in Gwinnett, moved to tiny Woodville, Miss., and took over in June as Wilkinson County Christian Academy's athletic director, head football coach and head boys basketball coach. Though his history was with huge high schools, he thought he'd enjoy life at WCCA, a rural school with approximately 270 students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

How did his move go? Pretty good so far.

Wright led WCCA to the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class A state championship game, where it lost 13-10 in overtime to Tri-County Academy. The Rams missed a 38-yard field goal with 20 seconds left in regulation that would have made their first-year coach a state champion.

The 12-2 season earned Wright, whose wife (the former Dani Kubik, also a Collins Hill grad) is WCCA's head girls basketball coach, coach of the year honors from the Natchez Democrat newspaper.

The award and the exceptional season are fitting rewards for Wright, one of the hardest-working coaches I've run across in my 15-plus years at the Daily Post. He always coached multiple sports, often three per school year, and added to his teaching load with involvement in other extracurriculars, including a Fellowship of Christian Athletes group that grew immensely under his watch.

His basketball team isn't faring quite as well this season, but at least he won't have to fire the football coach.

Heinicke keeps impressing

Do you think the best FCS player in the country could do well at a higher level? I sure do.

Collins Hill's Taylor Heinicke won the Walter Payton Award --FCS' equivalent of the Heisman Trophy --this week after another amazing season as Old Dominion's quarterback. He's one of only two sophomores, joining Georgia Southern's Adrian Peterson, to win the prestigious award.

Heinicke threw for 5,076 yards, rushed for 470 and accounted for 55 touchdowns this season. He also set an NCAA Division I record with 730 passing yards and 791 total yards in a Sept. 22 win over New Hampshire.

He continues to make the bigger colleges who passed him over, reportedly because he was only 6-foot and change, look like they made a big mistake. I'm sure many of those schools would love to have him now. As an Auburn fan, we could certainly use him.

All-star game takes hold

There was some skepticism when the Touchdown Club of Gwinnett launched its Rivalries of Gwinnett All-Star Football Game six years ago.

Folks wondered how a single county could produce a quality all-star football game. But when the county has the kind of talent that Gwinnett does, it's pretty easy.

The game is regularly filled with Division I talent on both sides and the attendance has increased by the year. The coaches have fun with the game, but also take it seriously, and the kids seem to enjoy being a part of it.

If you're free, check out this year's showcase Friday at 7 p.m. at Peachtree Ridge.

Free throw update

The inaugural Shots from the Heart: Gwinnett Coaches Against Childhood Cancer event, which features Gwinnett County basketball coaches in a bracket-style, free-throw competition is underway as a fundraiser for the Amanda Riley Foundation.

Here's an update on the matchups for the Sweet 16:

Carolyn Whitney, Wesleyan vs. Len Garner, Archer

Cassidy Jenkins, South vs. Josh Chase, Collins Hill

Daniel Bowles, Brookwood vs. Jaime Fisher, South

Eric Nathan, Collins Hill vs. Ashley Phillips, Mill Creek

Brad Hayes, Collins Hill vs. Jeremy Huckaby, Lanier

Ryan Lesniak, Archer vs. Scott Terry, Brookwood

Branden Mayweather, Archer vs. Paula Skinner, Collins Hill

Aaron Schuck, Parkview vs. Jennifer Crawford, Berkmar

Will Hammock can be reached via email at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock.