Carol City running back Nay’quan Wright said afterward that patience is not one of his strongest traits.
But patience is exactly what he needed over the last four weeks as he was forced to stand idle on the sidelines not being able to help his teammates during their red-hot run through the postseason because of a displaced fractured fibula in his left leg.
But when he finally got back on the field and got his chance on Saturday afternoon, Wright made the most of his opportunity.
On a day where the Chiefs offense otherwise struggled terribly, Wright turned out to be its most potent offensive weapon as he burst out for 109 yards on 18 carries and scored both touchdowns to lead Carol City to a 14-6 victory over Lakeland Lake Gibson in the Class 6A state championship game at Camping World Stadium.
“It was tough, very heartbreaking because I didn’t understand but I learned a long time ago not to question God, just take the path he chooses for you,” said Wright, who suffered the injury back on Oct. 29 in Carol City’s first of two battles with district rival Northwestern.
“Today I have to thank the man above for bringing me back out here and getting back on the field and allowing me to contribute to this great victory for our team.”
With the game locked in a scoreless defensive battle midway through the third quarter, it was Wright’s big 51-yard run up the middle to the Lake Gibson 1 and a plunge into the end zone on the next play that gave his team a lead it would never lose.
“Any running back always needs to give the love to his O-line and they did a great job on that play,” Wright said. “They made a big crease for me, especially [fullback] Bobby Baldwin who helped clear out the hole and away I went.”
When Carol City got down close inside the Lake Gibson 5 early in the fourth quarter, Wright got the call again and powered into the end zone from the 1 giving his team a 14-0 lead with 11:24 left.
“When we lost him, we knew it would be about four weeks and he’s the type of kid – he walked up to me and told me ‘Coach, I’ll be ready for the first playoff game,’ ” said Carol City coach Aubrey Hill.
“So we had to keep making sure he was patient and be sure we were in constant communication with the doctors. When we got momentum in the playoffs, it gave us the luxury of being patient and I felt the best time for him to come back would be this week and as you saw out there, he came through for us in a big way.”
While he was out, Wright’s running mate, Cameron Davis carried the load and came up with some big performances but, amidst tears of joy, Davis acknowledged during the postgame celebration that it was great to see his partner back in the backfield with him.
“It was just so great to have him back there again today,” Davis said. “When the other team sees me and No. 5 back there, defenses can’t key on either one of us and then we know it’s going to be a lot of trouble for them.
“When he was down, I had to pick it up and do more work and I just did what I had to do waiting for him to get back on the field.”
Said Hill: “Even though he’s just a sophomore, Nayquan walks around like a senior and showed great courage and leadership while he stood on the sidelines wanting to, but not being able to contribute. He’s got a great future.”