What do you get when you take an all-state wide receiver and make him your starting quarterback?
So far, Napoleon-Gackle-Streeter has gotten eight victories in eight games, plus a region championship.
Moving Jamison Fettig from wide receiver to quarterback this season has paid huge dividends for the 9-man Region 3 champion Imperials, who begin what they hope will be a long postseason run this afternoon against visiting Hankinson. Fettig, a junior who had 745 yards receiving last season, took over for all-state quarterback Dalten Jangula (a 2017 Napoleon High School graduate) and has racked up 863 yards passing and 694 rushing in eight games.
Napoleon-GS coach Kelly McCleary, whose team had a first-round bye, said Fettig was expected to replace Jangula this fall, and has performed above expectations.
“Jamison played quarterback in junior high and on the junior varsity, so we knew at the end of last year that he would play that position this year,” he said. “He’s one of our best athletes, and in 9-man football, a lot of good things can happen when you have a really good athlete at quarterback. We figured he would do a good job, but he’s even better than what we expected. Game after game, he's made plays with his passing and his running."
Fettig enjoyed playing wide receiver, but was more than willing to take on the challenges of a starting quarterback.
“I felt I could handle it. I knew the offense, and the coaches had a lot of confidence in me,” he said. “All I wanted to do was help my team any way I could. I knew what I had to do, and I worked hard to get myself ready.”
Fettig has been productive throughout the season, but McCleary said his signature game was against Region 3 rival Linton-Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock (6-0 at the time) on Sept. 29. He rushed for 223 yards and passed for 105 while rallying the Imperials from a 14-point second-half deficit (22-8) to a 31-22 victory. He closed the scoring with a 76-yard run late in the fourth quarter.
“That was definitely his best game of the year,” McCleary said. “We were down, but he came up big so many times in the second half. You count on your best players to make plays in big games, and Jamison really stepped up in that one.”
Fettig said the come-from-behind victory was a late-season confidence-booster.
“It was a great feeling coming back and winning that game the way we did,” he said. “It was for the region championship and a good test for us heading into the playoffs. We beat Richland the next week (46-20), so we ended (the regular season) on a high note. Now we’re hoping to keep it going in the playoffs.”
Fettig has a solid supporting cast. Running back Nathan Weigel has rushed for 1,400 yards. Fettig’s receiving corps includes Garrett Jangula, Drew Weigel, Ethan Kleppe and Jacob Bitz, all of whom have caught passes for more than 100 yards. The offensive line, consisting of center Andrew Miller, guards Tyler Long and Luke Hoberg, and tight ends Jangula and Weigel, was expected to be one of the team's strengths this season.
“Our offensive line has been great all year. I think they've given up less than 10 sacks, and they’re opening up holes for our backs,” Fettig said. “A running back like Nathan really takes the pressure off a quarterback, and my receivers are quick and reliable. Everyone around me has made my job a lot easier.”
Today’s second-round opponent, Hankinson (6-3), rolled past North Border 70-14 last week.
“Hankinson is a solid team with good athletes,” McCleary said. “They do a ton of things offensively … they like to use a lot of different formations. They’re hard to prepare for, but our guys have been really focused in practice and they’re ready to go. They're excited to begin playoff football."
In other second-round matchups involving area teams, New Salem-Almont-Glen Ullin (8-0) hosts Divide County (7-1) in a battle of region champions; Shiloh Christian (8-1) hosts St. John (6-2); Beach (7-2) travels to Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood (7-1), and Mott-Regent-New England (6-3) visits North Prairie (7-1).
Last week, Shiloh downed Surrey 50-16 in opening-round action. Quarterback-linebacker Jaden Mitzel had a huge day on both sides of the ball for the Skyhawks, accounting for three touchdowns and recording 13 tackles. Mitzel has thrown 24 touchdown passes this season. Running back Canaan Fagerland has rushed for more than 1,200 yards.
Beach defeated Towner-Granville-Upham 40-8 behind quarterback Josiah Orluck and running back Clay Mattern. Orluck racked up 218 total yards and scored three touchdowns rushing. Mattern rushed for 105 yards and three scores.
Orluck has 1,052 yards from scrimmage (613 passing, 439 rushing) this season. Mattern has 1,095 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns on 165 carries.
Beach’s top receiver is Jared Wojahn with 18 receptions for 279 yards.
Josh Wallace totaled 368 yards from scrimmage while leading Mott-Regent-New England to a 38-32 victory over Ray-Powers Lake. Wallace carried 27 times for 217 yards and completed five of six passes for another 151. He also returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
New Salem-AGU quarterback Evan Henke and running back Braden Zuroff are back in action today after turning in stellar performances in the Holsteins’ 36-34 Region 5 championship game victory over Shiloh on Oct. 6. Henke passed for 222 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 104 markers and two more scores. Zuroff had 111 yards rushing and 144 receiving. His three touchdown plays totaled 237 yards.
Henke has thrown for more than 1,200 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. Zuroff has 700-plus yards rushing, and 200-plus receiving.
Class A playoffs
Eight Class A opening-round games are on tap today, including Minot Ryan (6-2) at Beulah (7-1), Killdeer (6-2) at Des Lacs-Burlington (7-1), and Hazen (4-4) at Velva (8-0).
Beulah, the No. 2 seed out of Region 4, is powered by a strong running game, led by Mikey Morris (805 yards), Derek Ferebee (712), Aaron Vallejo (470) and Tyler Erickson (428). The Miners are averaging 314 yards rushing per game. Ferebee also has 416 yards passing, and Morris 160.
Morris, a linebacker, spearheads a solid Beulah defense. He has a team-high 67 tackles. Lineman Dillon Schramm has 65 stops, including 17 for a loss.
Cole Dukart’s 1,012 yards rushing leads the Killdeer offense. Quarterback Alex Sadowsky missed the final two regular-season games because of a concussion, but is expected to play today. He has 354 yards passing.
Garrett LeMieux has 24 receptions for 255 yards.
Hazen’s offensive leaders include Payton Leintz (284 yards passing, 149 yards rushing), Henry Lundstrom (385 yards rushing), Tyson Van Inwagen (311 yards rushing), and Brandon Snyder (251 yards rushing).
Dickinson Trinity (6-1), Region 4's No. 1 seed, will host Stanley (4-4) today. Trinity’s defense hasn’t allowed a point in the last six games.
Class AA football
St. Mary’s secured the No. 2 seed for the Class AA playoffs with a 41-14 victory over Turtle Mountain Wednesday night in the regular-season finale.
The Saints, 7-2, will host a semifinal playoff game on Nov. 4.
Fargo Shanley (8-0) is the No. 1 seed and will close out the regular season against No. 3 Devils Lake (6-2) today.
The final three seeds will be determined today. Jamestown (5-3) will go against homestanding Grafton (3-5), and Watford City (5-3) will host Wahpeton (4-4). Jamestown has a tie-breaker advantage over Watford City and Wahpeton. Grafton can get into the playoffs with a victory today, coupled with a Wahpeton loss. Grafton defeated Wahpeton in the regular-season meeting between the two teams.
Watford City has won five straight games after losing its first three.