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Wren in pursuit of perfection for AWC football
With three years under the tutelage of Arizona Western coach Tom Minnick, Sam Wren can distill that knowledge down to one word.
It's what the sophomore said he strives for on the field. It's what his Matadors came within eight points of achieving last year. And it's what the team is hoping to achieve this year.
“I learned that perfection is the key to everything,” said Wren, a two-year starter who also red-shirted his first year in the program. “I've learned what their expectations are, what they expect me to do, and I try to reach those expectations every day, every time we play a game.”
The Matadors host Mesa on Saturday as they look to improve to 6-0 on the season and 5-0 in the Western States Football League. A win guarantees them a berth in the El Toro Bowl at Yuma's Veterans Memorial Stadium on Dec. 1, the site of their 55-47 loss to East Mississippi last year.
Wren is the only defensive starter back from that game after Randy Gregory was lost for the season last month, leaving Wren as the only-two year starter on defense for AWC. It's thrust him into a leadership role, which he is relishing.
“I try to be a motivational leader, make sure they're always up and ready to go,” said Wren, who has six sacks. “I also make sure they're staying right in the head and working hard every day in practice.”
And Wren said it's title game or bust.
“I still got more improvement to do, more work to do, and we've still got a goal to reach. We're going for the national (championship), and anything short of that is failure in my eyes.”
Wren has spent three seasons in the Matador system under not just Minnick, but defensive coordinator Jerry Dominguez.
“It provides some leadership, having a guy who's been here for two years, who knows what he's doing, who's been around coach D,” Minnick said. “The good thing is you have to get used to the way we do things, and he's been a big instrumental help with the young kids and making sure they're doing stuff right, too.”
Through five games last year, the Matadors surrendered 50 points but are giving up 79 this year. They are still 15th in the country, allowing 89.6 rushing yards per game, and Minnick said Wren is a big part of that.
“He can make that move, he's got pretty good hips, he can run well in space,” Minnick said. “The good thing about Sam is he's a good kid and does everything right.
“He's been pretty effective so far,” he said of Wren, who also plays outside linebacker when the Matadors use a three-lineman defense.
“He's got to keep going. He's a big reason our defense is doing so well. Having a two-year starter and a kid who's been in the system for three years helps out a lot.”
Wren has made some visits to Division I Football Bowl Subdivision schools, including Texas State this weekend. He said a trip to Oregon State is coming up.
But before he decides on next year, there's unfinished business for this year: a return to the national championship, with a different result.
“It's our main goal. It's what we talk about every day. That's why everything we do has to be perfection.”