Four Wildcats earn all-EMO honors

By: 
Derrick Forsythe
Staff Writer

The 2020 season presented its share of challenges for the Wright City football team, including the sidelining of some its most experienced players due to COVID-19 quarantine requirements. Despite the limited minutes on the field to showcase their talents, four Wildcats found their way onto the Eastern Missouri All-Conference Team following a tough season.

Jake Smith — The junior receiver landed a unanimous first-team selection, after leading the Wildcats with 601 yards and five touchdowns on 37 catches. He also returned eight kickoffs for 70 yards.

“If you would’ve told me that he would’ve been a unanimous first-team selection entering the year, I would’ve been pretty surprised,” said Coach Jeff Sargent. “That’s the thing about us — is we’ve had those kind of receivers the past several years from Troy Muse to Devon Holmes. The thing about Jake is of all those receivers, he’s the best route runner. There have been guys with Division I offers struggling to stay with him, because he ran the routes so well.”

Alex Polston — The senior lineman was recognized for his efforts in the trenches, opening up space for the Wildcats’ offense to move the ball. He also played on the opposite side, recorded 14 total tackles on defense.

“He’s definitely a guy we tried to run behind most of the season,” said Sargent. “He was the guy that anchored our offensive line most of the time. He was the leader of our line and was definitely a guy we could rely on week in and week out.”

Drake Meyers — The senior defensive back was named to the first team, after logging 90 total tackles.

“He’s such cerebral player,” said Sargent. “His mind and his thought process is a little different. He does a lot of good things for us. When we moved him to safety, he really started to succeed. He’s going to be someone who’s going to be very difficult to replace. He was our best cornerback last year. I’m amazed at the way he developed the way he did. He was very fundamentally sound at tackling. I can’t say enough good things about him. He ended up being our captain most of the games this year.”

Hayden Beck — The junior quarterback was a multi-faceted player for the Wildcats, earning a first-team nod at punter. As a signal caller who completed 85 of 158 passes for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns. On special teams, he averaged 25.3 yards, with 506 yards on 20 punts. 

“Hayden is probably the best overall football player in the conference,” said Sargent. “He is the best quarterback we’ve had in a while. He doesn’t just change the game on offense. He’s a game changer on defense as well. The two interceptions he had this year are plays I haven’t seen very many linebackers make. This year me letting him play defense was a positive. He is the ultimate competitor and leader when he’s out there.”

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