|Kendall Wright leading Northwest Missouri to title game|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Dec. 9, 2005 - Kendall Wright has caught passes, ran with the ball, returned punts and kickoffs for Northwest Missouri State University, and it has all helped the Bearcats reach the cusp of the pinnacle.
Northwest Missouri will be going for its third national championship in the last seven years, and Sulphur Springs native Kendall Wright has been a big part of it.
The Bearcats (11-3), ranked No. 21 in the nation, will take on top-ranked Grand Valley State (12-0) in the NCAA Div. II national championship at 3 p.m. Saturday in Florence, Ala. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN.
Wright, a redshirt freshman receiver, is the Bearcats' No. 3 receiver and top punt returner. A record-setting receiver in high school, he graduated from SSHS in 2004.
He has caught 34 passes for 474 yards and five touchdowns and has ran with the ball twice for 19 yards. He is their best punt returner with 243 yards on 19 returns, and he has returned six kickoffs for 103 yards.
Former high school teammate Keelan Green, who is taking an injury redshirt year as a freshman, is also a Bearcat. Both former Wildcats run track for NW Missouri.
The Bearcats have won four consecutive games on the road in the playoffs to become the first team in Division II history to do that. They are coached by Mel Tjeerdsma, a former head coach at Austin College in Sherman.
Between the two teams, they have won the national championship in four of the last seven years. Northwest Missouri won the title game in 1998 and 1998, while Grand Valley State were champs in 2002 and 2003.
Northwest Missouri earned their way into the championship game with a 25-24 victory over North Alabama in the semifinals.