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BUFORD – Buford senior lineman Santrez Wright, in terms of his football progress, has gone from a question mark to an exclamation point.
Buford High School offensive line coach Wes James wasn’t quite sure about Wright’s future contribution as a player a few seasons back.
“He’s come a long way,” James said of the Jackets’ offensive tackle, who is now a two-year starter for the maroon and gold. ”His whole body has changed.”
Wright, a 5-9, 195-pounder, has developed into a key performer in the Jackets’ offensive line.
“Santrez is more dedicated,” James said. “He’s dedicated himself into becoming a good football player.”
Wright’s dedication took hold after last season when he began to spend more time in the weight room.
“Santrez and Griggs Griffin have played beside each other for four years, two on the jayvees, and two on the varsity and last year they began working out together after the season,” James said. “They challenged each other to get better. Santrez has gotten stronger.”
His strength increase has translated well for the Jackets.
“He has become more consistent and we’re confident when we can run behind Santrez and Griggs,” James said. “He’s added strength this year and a lot of that is due to what he did over the winter, into the spring and through the summer to become a better player under coach (Jareth) Bailey’s guidance.”
Wright said James has played a key role in his development.
“Coach James really helps,” Wright said. “I like his attitude toward the game. He does a good job coaching us.”
Wright said it’s all about preparation.
“He has us ready to play,” he said. “He reviews the blocks and makes sure we know what we’re doing. We work on the field, but we also watch film to see what we need to do.”
The bulk of Wright’s work in the Jackets’ Wing-T ground attack is done through run blocking.
“I love pulling and blocking down on people and hitting them by surprise,” he said. “I love the contact. It’s one of my favorite parts of football.”
“He makes contact and stays on his blocks,” James said.
Football hasn’t been a whole lot of fun for the Jackets in the last three weeks when the 3-5 Jackets have dropped three straight region games.
Wright said the Jackets remain confident.
“We can be doing better, but I feel good about our last two games,” said Wright, who is grading at 75 percent for the season to date. “We need to work a little harder.
“We’ve had good practices and we just have to keep our focus,” Wright said. “I’m confident about our last two games.”
Buford head coach Mike Wells said it’s all about Wright’s effort.
“Santrez is not a vocal person, but he leads by example,” Wells said. “He works hard and plays hard. He gets after it.
“He and Griggs will be tough to replace next season, but what I like about them is the way they lead and the example they set on the field for our younger players to follow.
“There’s still football to be played his season, but they will leave some big shoes to fill when it’s over this season.”