DECATUR — When generational talents walk through a door and into a football program, it's often best to not overthink things.
St. Teresa football coach Mark Ramsey didn't. He wisely fed running back Jacardia Wright carries and watched Wright deliver with big plays, touchdowns and wins. The plan was easy, and it worked. Wright graduated ranked No. 2 in IHSA history in both career rushing yards (8,821) and career rushing touchdowns (133).
Against most teams, it was the only card the Bulldogs needed to show. Quietly, though, the Bulldogs developed a quarterback who they think is also a face card in Jack Hogan. He wasn't invisible during last season's run to the Class 2A state semifinals, but he didn't need to quite step out of the shadows yet. He threw for 1,261 yards on 114 attempts — 105 fewer throws than handoffs to Wright — for 15 touchdowns and just three interceptions while rushing for 513 yards and nine touchdowns.
Without Wright, who will play at Kansas State in the Big 12 next season, Hogan is ready to show more of his game as a senior in his third season as the team's starting quarterback. Hogan believes that he has more to offer, Ramsey agrees, and current and former teammates know that Hogan can be a dangerous dual-threat quarterback in the area.
“I don’t really think about it that much," Hogan said. "In my head I know what I can do."
Hogan started the first game of his sophomore year, and even throughout that season Ramsey noted that his sophomore quarterback was getting better by the week. In last season's second-round playoff game at Athens, Hogan opened the scoring with a 30-yard touchdown run. That play is particularly fresh in the Bulldogs' minds. It was a bit of foreshadowing.
“The two biggest things have been his leadership ability and his dual-threat run and pass ability," Ramsey said. "That’s what you’re looking for. You’re looking for a leader and somebody who can run and throw."
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The only question remaining for Hogan is when exactly he will be back on the field after breaking his ankle during baseball season in March. Both Hogan and Ramsey are hopeful that when the season begins at Downs Tri-Valley, where Hogan started his varsity quarterbacking career two years ago, Hogan will be the starting quarterback.
At a 7-on-7 at Monticello on Wednesday, Hogan stepped in and made a few throws both in practice and during a few offensive sets. Last week at Maroa-Forsyth's 7-on-7, Hogan said he felt like he was "about ready."
The injury happened in St. Teresa's third game of the season in early March. He was rounding third about to score before turning to retreat to third base. Hogan's cleat got stuck and his ankle broke. It was devastating and the first serious injury he's suffered.
“I literally thought I would be done (with all sports)," Hogan said. "... It was pretty hard to understand. I’ve never had to sit out for a season in baseball, basketball or football. It was kind of weird for me."
He's worked on his upper body strength and has been swimming in an effort to keep his stamina for his return to the football field. After realizing he would miss his entire junior season of baseball, and a chance to play at Busch Stadium with his teammates, he turned his attention to football.
During 7-on-7 camps this summer, Hogan has been vocal in helping his younger teammates, especially quarterbacks Chord Miller and Zahki Hayes.
“Just making sure everyone knows their routes offensively, and defensively making sure we’re in the right coverage," Hogan said. "Just because I’m not on the field doesn’t mean I can’t lead."
Hogan won't be alone on offense this season, he has a strong group of receivers that includes Michael Less and a young, promising running back in Denim Cook. There may not be a Jacardia Wright, but there's still a Jack Hogan.
“You’ve just got to have confidence," Hogan said. "It was always fun playing with Jacardia, but it’s time for me to have my own little session."
Contact Joey Wagner at (217) 421-6970. Follow him on Twitter: @mrwagner25