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Northwest Bearcats

Rich Wright

Rich Wright

Defensive Coordinator

OfficeLamkin Activity Center 211
Phone(660) 562-1696

Richard Wright enters his second season as defensive coordinator after serving as Northwest’s defensive line coach and coordinator of special teams since 2004. The Bearcats have featured at least one All-America defensive lineman during his tenure coaching the defensive line.


In 2009, Tyler Roach became the program’s 10th All-America defensive lineman to play under Wright.  Kendall Wright enjoyed one of the most decorated seasons in 2008 as a return specialist also earning All-America accolades.  During Wright’s tenure 10 Bearcats have combined to earn 14 All-MIAA honors as either a lineman or return man.


Two former players, Dave Tollefson (New York Giants) and Steve Williams (New England Patriots), are listed on NFL rosters while Tollefson earned a Super Bowl ring with the Giants following the 2007 season.


Northwest tied for the most sacks in the nation in 2009 when 19 Bearcats combined for 48 sacks. The Bearcats have finished in the top 10 nationally in quarterback sacks in three of the last four seasons.


Wright’s influence on the special teams at Northwest has also become noticeable during his tenure. The Bearcats have blocked 43 kicks in Wright’s six seasons - an average of more than seven per year. Northwest blocked eight kicks in 2009, including three in the postseason.   Each blocked kick played a major role in the outcome en route to Northwest’s third NCAA Division II National Championship.  A blocked extra point with six seconds left in the game sealed a 21-20 win over top-ranked Central Washington in the national quarterfinals.  The national semifinals saw Ryan Jones return a blocked punt for a touchdown as the Bearcats raced past California (Pa.) to the title game.  Finally, in the national championship game it was more Ryan Jones magic returning a blocked extra point to seal a 30-23 win over Grand Valley State.


In lieu of great special teams play, Northwest ranked third in NCAA Division II in net punting and 11th in yards allowed per punt during the 2007 campaign. In 2009, a pair of freshmen, Tyler Shaw and Jordan Simmons, helped the Bearcats lead the nation in kick return yards for much of the season. The unit finished 17th overall including two touchdowns, one each by Shaw and Simmons, and an average of more than 23 yards per return.


Wright got his first taste of Bearcat football when he served as a graduate assistant at Northwest in 1995 and 1996 where he was the tight ends coach. Before coming back to Northwest in 2004, Wright served as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at St. Ambrose (Iowa) University from 2000-04. During that time, the Fighting Bees won four straight conference titles and set the league record for consecutive wins. In his first season at St. Ambrose, Wright’s defense also led the country with 32 interceptions.


Prior to St. Ambrose, Wright made stops at William Penn (Iowa) College and Central Methodist College (now University) and Dakota State University.


Wright began coaching during the 1991 season at Cortland State before spending time at Dana College from 1993-94.  Covering several facets of coaching, Wright has been an offensive coordinator, linebackers coach, wide receivers coach and special teams coordinator.


A native of Hamilton, N.Y., Wright earned his bachelor’s degree at Dana (Neb.) College in 1995 and his master’s at Northwest in 1996. Wright resides in Maryville with his wife, Sarah and their daughters, Grace and Kate.