Just because Christian Fetsis is a quarterback doesn’t mean he has to throw the ball.
At least, that’s been Pusch Ridge Christian’s approach to offense this season.
The Lions might have the most effective rushing attack in the state of Arizona — college included.
Consider this: The Arizona Wildcats are average 331.6 rushing yards per game during a breakthrough offensive season. Pusch Ridge averages 333.5 — in 12 less minutes per game.
OK, that’s comparing apples to oranges, but the point stands — Pusch Ridge’s rushing-centric offense is so effective that it doesn’t really make much sense to pass the ball more than “as needed.”
That probably won’t change Saturday, when top-seeded and undefeated Pusch Ridge takes on No. 3 Queen Creek Casteel in the Class 3A state championship game. The game will be played at Campo Verde High School in Gilbert.
“Our confidence level is through the roof,” said Fetsis, a senior. “Our coach tells us in practice, he says we can tell the defense where we’re going to run the ball, but can they stop us is the question. I don’t think they can.”
The statistics back Fetsis up.
Pusch Ridge (13-0) has 64 rushing touchdowns this season. The Lions have rushed for at least 300 yards on at least seven occasions, 299 on another and more than 400 four times, including in last week’s state semifinal win over Queen Creek Benjamin Franklin. In that game, the Lions finished with 473 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
Five players on Pusch Ridge’s roster have rushed for 500 yards or more. They are: Fetsis (1,168), Tamerat McLeod (777), Ryan Garcia (623), Dakota Haynes (559) and Mitch Maas (507).
All five of those players have rushed for at least seven touchdowns.
Against Santa Rita on Oct. 27, Pusch Ridge had 386 rushing yards and six touchdowns … on 11 carries.
Sabino is traditionally a power in Southern Arizona and won nine games this season. Pusch Ridge made them feel a little less powerful — the Lions rushed for 273 yards and six touchdowns in a 44-7 win on Oct. 6.
“I love it,” Fetsis said. “It’s hard to prepare for and we just get to out-physical teams and really just break their will.
“Anybody can throw the ball, I think, but when we’re pounding the ball every play and they can’t stop it, I think it just shows how tough we are and it just drains the opponent so much.”
Pusch Ridge truly can throw the ball; coach Jerry Harris just chooses not to. Still, Fetsis has proven capable. Even though he only attempts 5.8 passes per game and has only three times attempted more than 10 passes in a game, Fetsis averages 24.5 yards per completion and throws a touchdown on every 5.1 pass attempts. He has 15 touchdowns through the air.
“Our passing game is nothing to write home about in terms of the numbers,” Harris said. “We have incorporated more and more of the option game to what we do.
“It allows us to use his athleticism in the run game as well and the balance of those two things along with his leadership have really been the secret to him blossoming.”
Last week, Fetsis attempted two passes. Both fell incomplete.
“I feel there’s so few opportunities that I’ve got to make them count,” Fetsis said.
Of course, he rushed for 171 yards in that game, and has 1,168 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns on the season.
“Last week, Ben Franklin locked down our route concepts pretty well, they covered the pass well. When the pass is being covered well, it opens up the run game and that’s what our strength is. We had no problem running the ball,” Fetsis said. “We know we can run the ball on any team.”