Column: A rivalry renewed, Scooby is back

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Rebecca Noble and Rebecca Noble and Rebecca Noble | The Daily Wildcat Arizona defensive linebacker Scooby Wright III (33) latches onto UCLA running back Paul Perkins (24) at Arizona Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 26. Wright returned to practice this week and is expected to play in the Wildcats' bowl game.

Scooby is back. You read that right, Scooby Wright III practiced for the first time Monday since being injured against UCLA earlier in the season.

Along with Wright, Anu Solomon and Samajie Grant—who both sustained concussions during the season—also practiced and are expected to play in Arizona’s bowl game.

Wright worked with his trainer around Thanksgiving and knew it was time to return. He even joked with the media about his comeback and his opponent in the bowl game.

“Just because I’m healthy, and football players play in football games,” Wright said after practice.

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Wright, who totaled 163 tackles, 29 tackles for a loss, 14 sacks and six forced fumbles last season, was even asked about his status for the NFL and his possible return to Arizona next season. His answer, although not surprising, showed how motivated he is to simply return to action.

“Just focus on the bowl game,” Wright said.

A rivalry renewed

The Wildcats must now circle Dec. 19 on their calendars, as they have less than two weeks to prepare for the Gildan New Mexico Bowl where they will matchup against New Mexico.

Wildcat fans should know the Lobos well; Arizona and New Mexico have squared off 66 times before.

The first meeting between the two teams was in 1908. The rivalry even had a trophy from 1938 to 1990: the Kit Carson Rifle. Although the rivalry cooled in 1990, the two teams share decades of history, with the Wildcats leading the series 43-20-3.

“We are looking forward to returning to the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, where we have great memories from a few years ago,” Rodriguez said in a press release. “It’s especially important to our seniors who will now play in a bowl game for the fourth consecutive season. I know we’re ready to get to work and start preparing for a tough opponent in New Mexico.”

Tough is right. This Lobos team defeated Boise State earlier this season, an opponent the Wildcats know all too well from their Fiesta Bowl loss last season.

The Wildcats and Lobos have played two of the same teams this season in Nevada and ASU. The Lobos lost to both teams, while Arizona picked up one win and one loss.

Family reunion

Although the upcoming game will mean a lot to every Arizona player and especially all the seniors, one player in particular will have a vested interest. Arizona safety Will Parks will have the opportunity to square up against his brother, New Mexico sophomore receiver Delane Hart-Johnson.

“[I’ve played] against [Hart-Johnson] in rumble football in the middle of the street, but other than that, it’s go time,” Parks said at Arizona’s football banquet earlier this week. “I told him to practice hard and make sure he made his A-game, because I’m not going to let up on him.”

Hart-Johnson has 10 catches for 235 yards and one touchdown this season. Things will surely get testy if the two matchup.

Tickets for the New Mexico Bowl are $40 to the public and $15 for students, on sale at Arizona Athletics’ website.


Follow Matt Wall on Twitter.



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