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November 9, 2008

HUTSELL: It’s dead wrong to blame Wright-Baker

Overheard it in a restaurant Saturday morning. The sentence contained five words that don’t need to be spoken.

“If only Edward didn’t fumble,” said this patron of a downtown Jeffersonville establishment.

He was talking about Friday’s Class 5A Sectional championship. The one Jeff lost to Castle 49-39 at Blair Field. The loss that denied the Red Devils a second straight trip to regional.

He was talking about one play, one out of roughly 70 on Jeff’s side. He was talking about a third quarter slip up by Jeffersonville star quarterback Edward Wright-Baker. One that killed a Jeffersonville drive and started another Castle scoring march.

The logic behind the statement is as small-minded as it is stupid. Finding a way to pin the loss on one play is dumbfounding.

Because, to be frank, if Edward Wright-Baker didn’t play football for Jeffersonville — we wouldn’t be discussing Red Devil football the morning after the sectional championship game.

If one night could ever wrap up Wright-Baker’s overall mastery on the high-school football field it came on Friday. It was the night he culminated his record-shattering hold on the Jeff record books with one of the greatest individual efforts in Blair Field history.

He scored five touchdowns, he racked up nearly 300 yards of individual offense. He ran Jeff right back from a 14-0 first-quarter hole with four rushing touchdowns before halftime. He put Jeff back within striking distance in the fourth quarter with a 21-yard dash.

He threw for 144 yards and ran for 129.

Oh yeah, and in case you didn’t hear — he scored five touchdowns. FIVE.

Sure that fumble in the third quarter was a backbreaker. Yes, it squashed a potential go-ahead scoring drive. And yes, it led to a score the other way for the Knights. And he did fumble again late in the fourth quarter, although the Devils’ hopes were dim by then anyway.

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