OLYMPIA — If you remember Skyler Fulton and Scott Gurnsey, then you know the type of football players they were in high school.
Game-changers, players who would turn a routine play into something exciting. That’s what Fulton did at Capital High (1996-99) and Guernsey at Tumwater (1986-89).
Olympia High’s Mitch Fettig might be the next player of that caliber.
Longtime Olympia coach Bill Beattie isn’t shying away from putting Fettig in the same sentence as Fulton and Gurnsey, two of South Sound’s most memorable players at wide receiver and defensive back who were three-year varsity starters.
“I’m hoping Mitch will be one of those ones by the time he’s done,” Beattie said of the 6-foot, 170-pound Fettig. “He’s an exciting guy. … Athletically, he’s at the top with anyone.”
The excitement stems from Fettig’s ability to make big plays.
Fettig led the Bears with five interceptions in 2012 – including two in a 29-22 win over Yelm in October that sealed Olympia’s third-place finish in the 4A Narrows League – and eight pass deflections as a free safety and cornerback who was often assigned to the opposing team’s top receiver.
“On the defensive side, he’s as good as anyone I’ve been around in 30 years,” Beattie said.
Lined up in the slot and at wide receiver, he caught 20 passes for 287 yards and three
Beattie labeled Fettig the “quarterback of the defense,” and the coach expects to see more versatility from the athletic, yet modest, Fettig because he’ll be part of the kick return teams. And he will see extended time in the backfield.
“I’m in the best shape of my life,” Fettig said. “I think I’m more ready than I’ve ever been.”
His good condition and good health didn’t come without hardship and adversity. In late June at the Oregon State camp, Fettig broke his left collarbone, abruptly ending what he called an all-football, all-the-time offseason. After healing two weeks, he was cleared for sprints and agility drills, but a month passed before he was allowed to resume football activities.
Those first two weeks were the toughest for Fettig to endure.
“That was my only down time,” he said.
Fellow senior and defensive back Cooper Murphy said Fettig has shown “not one sign” of injury, and has impressed teammates with his increased speed and strength.
“I feel like he’s a lot faster,” Murphy said, “especially his jumping ability, too.”
Fettig might do a little bit of everything for the Bears, who are coming of an uncharacteristic 4-6 season, but that’s just fine with the senior.
“It’s going to be worth it,” he said.
About the Bears
Coach: Bill Beattie, 19th season
2012 record: 4-6, third in 4A Narrows; lost district playoff game
Offense: Coordinator (set) – Beattie (multiple); returning starters – 6
Top players: OL Jimmy Fish, 6-2, 215, sr.; RB Cedar Frost, 5-9, 190, sr.; OL Dan Mongovin, 6-2, 245, sr.; QB Kaden Wilson, 6-3, 185, jr.; RB Collin Courter, 5-10, 165; RB Caden Waggoner, 5-9, 210, sr.; QB Derrick Becker, 6-0, 185, sr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) – Greg Hargrave (4-3); returning starters – 5
Top players: DB Mitch Fettig, 6-0, 180, sr.; LB Elijah de la Cruz, 5-9, 195, sr.; DB Randy Jones, 6-0, 175, sr.; DB Cooper Murphy, 5-9, 170, sr.
Outlook: Hargrave, Olympia’s wrestling coach, is a familiar face in a familiar place. He was the defensive coordinator from 1997-2000. … Olympia’s uniforms will feature decals remembering the late Todd McDougall, who was the Bears’ defensive coordinator from 2001-12. … Becker joins the Bears after the past two seasons as Capital’s starting quarterback.
All games at 7 p.m. unless noted
Friday, Sept. 6: at Lake Oswego (Ore.)
Friday, Sept. 13: CAPITAL
Friday, Sept. 20: TIMBERLINE
Friday, Sept. 27: at Stadium *
Saturday, Oct. 5: SOUTH KITSAP *, 1 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 11: at Central Kitsap *
Friday, Oct. 18: GIG HARBOR *
Friday, Oct. 25: at Bellarmine Prep *
Friday, Nov. 1: YELM *Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/southsoundsports @MegWochnick * Denotes 4A Narrows League game; home games in CAPS email@example.com