Wright City ready to take a big step forward during 2023 season

By John Rohlf, Sports Editor
Posted 8/25/23

One year after taking major strides as a program, Wright City is eyeing another positive step in the 2023 football campaign. 

Wright City returns a strong nucleus from last year’s …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Wright City ready to take a big step forward during 2023 season


One year after taking major strides as a program, Wright City is eyeing another positive step in the 2023 football campaign. 

Wright City returns a strong nucleus from last year’s squad that earned five wins, including four in their first five games. 

Head Coach Tyler Rickard and Wright City seniors Denzel Dowdy and Joey Gendron all harped on the positives through the first week of practice earlier this month. 

“We have more people than last year and attendance is still looking good,” Dowdy said. 

“People are wanting to be out here on time. Just overall, it feels pretty good.”

Rickard thought the Wildcats had a productive summer and good first week of practice, stressing he was encouraged with what he saw throughout the first week of practice. 

The Wildcats return a plethora of key contributors from last year’s squad, including Duan McRoberts. The junior rushed for over 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. Gendron returns under center to lead the Wildcat offense at the quarterback position. 

“I feel like last year, I was just really nervous, you know, not really knowing what to expect,” Gendron said. “But I feel like I’ve seen a lot of different looks of the defenses and I know what to prepare for and I know what to expect. So I feel like coming into this year, I can make a lot happen.”

Head coach Tyler Rickard touted Gendron’s development at the quarterback position. He also harped on the strength of Wright City’s running game between McRoberts, Denzel Dowdy and Carle’on Jones. 

After finishing the 2021 season with a 1-8 record, Wright City finished last season with a 5-6 record, including a 42-32 road win over Normandy in the first round of the district tournament. 

Gendron stressed the Wildcats cannot be complacent this season after the four win increase they saw last season. 

“I feel like we did take good steps last year and we did up our wins…I feel like this year is just another year,” Gendron said. “We’re ready to build on top of that and hopefully finish with a better record than that and make strides...” 

Wright City benefited from a strong start last season. Rickard credits the Wildcats’ returning talent and varsity experience they had last season for the fast start during the 2022 campaign. 

“I think we’re at that point again this year. We’ve got a lot of guys coming back,” Rickard said. “We lost some important seniors but we’ve got a lot of juniors and seniors that played a lot last year…We’ve had a really good summer and so I think we’re primed and ready to go for that first week to start strong.” 

Dowdy and Gendron both feel the game slowed down this year as opposed to past seasons. 

“Being a freshman and even getting a snap on the varsity, it was nerve wracking,” Dowdy said. “I mean, just one little mess up, I would probably start crying. Actually, I did. I fumbled and started crying. And just now, I mean, I’m ready to go out there.” 

Just like last season, Rickard is counting on the Wright City upperclassmen to lead the Wildcats on the field. The Wildcats bring in eight seniors who are leading Wright City vocally and by example. Rickard said the juniors are also doing a good job of leading the Wildcats. 

Gendron thinks the example set by last year’s senior class helped the current upperclassmen see how to lead the football program. 

“When you get to a role of leadership, you don’t really know how important it is unless you’ve been in the role of looking to the leader,” Gendron said. “So I think us going through the ropes and us looking for somebody to lead, I think it really helps. And I think now we know that it does take somebody to go out there and lead the team.” 

One of Rickard’s priorities for the Wildcats this season is for weekly consistency. While they have season goals, they need to “take care of the here and now first,” Rickard said. Rickard believes Wright City’s season goals will take care of themselves if they take a week by week approach. 

Gendron echoed Rickard’s approach, stating their priority is to focus on the task for that week. He said they do want to build on last year and finish with a better record than last year, plus achieving their conference and district goals. 

“The biggest, most important thing is just going one week at a time,” Gendron said. “Not really looking to the next week, see what we got, obviously preparing. But I think just worrying about one week at a time and by the end of the season, we’ll be in a good spot.” 

Wright City is slated to open the season Friday with a home game against Winfield. Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m.