Northwest junior quarterback Braden Wright is expected to miss four to six weeks after undergoing an emergency surgery to repair midgut volvulus — twisting of the intestine — Wright told The Missourian prior to the Bearcats’ 47-7 win against Central Missouri Sept. 18.
Wright attended a regularly scheduled conditioning workout, followed by team meetings Sept. 10, the Friday of Northwest’s impromptu week off. In that meeting, Wright said, is when he knew something was different.
“I went to the bathroom and quickly realized it was out of the ordinary,” Wright said. “I kind of just collapsed on the bathroom floor in Lamkin. I was just laying there, and the pain just kept getting worse and worse, to the point where I almost couldn’t stand up.”
From there, Northwest athletic trainer Elizabeth Theiman took Wright to the Mosaic Medical Center - Maryville, where he was treated immediately.
“I got very lucky,” Wright said. “It was, potentially, like, a life-threatening thing if I waited a couple hours. … Liz is the reason why; she’s the one that got me to the hospital. She saved a lot.”
Based on the current timeline, though, the earliest he could return would be Northwest’s matchup with Northeastern State Oct. 23. The latest would be the Bearcats’ game at Missouri Southern Nov. 6.
In the Bearcats' Week 1 win against Fort Hays — Wright’s only game this season after Lincoln canceled a Week 2 matchup due to COVID-19 protocols — he was 13-of-23 for 96 yards passing and a touchdown. Wright connected with senior wideout Kaden Davis for an 8-yard score against Hays to give Northwest an 8-point lead over the Tigers with a minute left in the fourth quarter.
In his first two seasons as the starter, the Elkhorn, Nebraska, native was named the 2018 MIAA Freshman of the Year and was a second-team All-MIAA selection in 2019. Should he end up exercising his medical redshirt, Wright will still have three years of eligibility, including the extra year given to each student-athlete because of COVID-19.
Sophomore backup quarterback Mike Hohensee — who serves as the team's starting punter — started for Northwest against the Mules.
Hohensee was named the MIAA Special Teams Athlete of the Week for his Week 1 performance against Fort Hays, in which he punted seven times for an average of 41.4 yards per punt. Four were downed inside the 20-yard line, including two at the 1.
In Week 3, though, Hohensee was the catalyst to Northwest’s 40-point win against Central. The St. Charles, Illinois, native scored six total touchdowns against the Mules.
“He was ready for his opportunity,” Northwest football coach Rich Wright said in the aftermath of the win Sept. 18. “He got a chance to come out here and get a start, and he played very well.”
Against Central, Hohensee was 14-of-18 for 260 yards passing and four touchdowns. On the ground, the sophomore had three carries for 41 yards rushing and two touchdowns. It was a performance good enough for the best Division II passer efficiency rating this season (272.4), and it would’ve warranted a perfect quarterback rating in the NFL (153.8).
“I mean, I’ve been preparing to play for four years,” Hohensee said after the 100th overall matchup between Northwest and Central. “This didn’t really come as a big shock to me. I was nervous, but it’s not like I wasn’t prepared.”
Now, with Braden Wright expected out for a couple of months and Hohensee at the helm of the Bearcats’ offense, backup-quarterback duties are expected to reside between redshirt freshman Joseph Krause and freshman Chris Ruhnke.