Hartselle’s Trent Wright returns after two years away from football
By David Elwell
For the Enquirer
Hartselle’s Trent Wright thought his football days were over two years ago.
After trying to survive as a 5-foot-6, 125-pound freshman, Wright decided the game wasn’t for him.
Now the 6-foot-3, 185-pound senior could be an important cog in the Hartselle offense this season while playing wide receiver.
“After my freshman football season, I decided to focus on basketball,” Wright said. “Basketball has always been my No. 1 sport and always will be.”
Basketball has worked out well for Wright. He was a starter this past season for head coach Faron Key on Hartselle’s team that advanced to the Northwest Regional championship game.
Football started stepping back into the picture after basketball season ended. Bryan Moore was hired as the new football head coach at Hartselle in January. The former Jasper head coach inherited a roster that was low on upperclassmen.
“I decided I needed to recruit the halls for some football players,” Moore said. One of his targets was Wright, who he pulled out of class for a recruiting pitch.
“Actually, it was more that I was talked into playing by some of my friends like (junior linebacker) Isaac Osteen,” Wright said. “I really didn’t decide for sure until this summer.”
A factor in Wright’s decision was the ongoing situation with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I try to keep up with what’s going on in the world,” Wright said. “I know how unsure the situation is. I saw what happened last spring when all the sports got canceled. I started thinking about, what if there’s no basketball season?
“I’m a competitor. I like competition. I thought, if I play football, I could at least have that for some competition in my senior season. Hopefully, we’ll get to have a basketball season, too.”
Hartselle’s roster is dominated by youth. Pre–season practice started with eight seniors and 14 juniors, while there are 76 sophomores and freshmen on the team.
“There are so many young guys that I don’t even know most of their names,” Wright said.
One of those young Hartselle players is sophomore receiver Izayah Fletcher, who made his name on the varsity last season with his speed, hands and ability to catch the long pass.
“I’m not that type of receiver,” Wright said. “My job will be more to catch the short pass and fight for as much extra yardage as I can get.”
Among others working at receiver are freshman Eli Tidwell, junior Armahdeo Dunigan and sophomore Coleman Mizell, who was also recruited by Moore to play football. Mizell already plays baseball and basketball.
Who will be throwing passes for the Tigers is an ongoing competition. Last year’s starter, Cal George, moved to Athens. The top contenders to replace him are senior Parker Sawyer, who started for Moore at Jasper last season, and JT Blackwood, who moved to Hartselle from Cullman.
“It’s been really good competition between them at practice,” Wright said. “Every minute of practice is good competition all over the field. I like that. It makes practice fun.”
This is the sixth season as a head coach for the 34-year-old Moore. He previously coached three years at Eufaula and two years at Jasper. Those five teams combined for a 49-12 record, with five playoff appearances.
Moore might be challenged this year to keep his playoff streak alive. Hartselle made the playoffs last year with a 4-6 record as the No. 4 team out of a six-team region. The Tigers, who have made the playoffs 18 out of the past 21 seasons, are in an eight-team region this season, and four wins might not be enough to make the playoffs.
“There are a lot of young guys that are going to have to play, but you can tell at practice that they are talented,” Wright said. “After the young guys catch up to the speed of the game, I see us getting on a roll and making the playoffs.”