Christian Fetsis began his sophomore season as Pusch Ridge Christian’s starting quarterback.
Less than two quarters into the 2015 campaign, Fetsis broke the thumb on his throwing hand while playing defense. While he was still able to contribute on that side of the ball, Fetsis had to watch as quarterback Cody Cropp guided the Lions to their best season in school history. Pusch Ridge finished 13-1 and won a state championship.
The injury was “really tough to swallow, but I really just put my trust in God,” said Fetsis, now a senior. “Really, it was a battle between myself and my own emotions. But the rest of the team did great. I think it all worked out perfectly (and) we won the state championship, so I’m not complaining about that.”
Now, top-seeded Pusch Ridge is two wins away from another title. The Lions (13-0) will take on Queen Creek Benjamin Franklin in Saturday’s Class 3A state semifinals at Salpointe Catholic. The winner will advance to next week’s state championship game in Gilbert.
Fetsis has adeptly guided Pusch Ridge’s run-heavy offense, gaining 997 yards on 100 carries and scoring 16 touchdowns. In last week’s quarterfinals win over Phoenix Northwest Christian, he threw for 116 yards, added 100 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns.
His passing stats might even be more impressive considering how infrequently the Lions throw the ball. Fetsis has thrown for 1,151 yards and 15 touchdowns on just 47 completions. Pusch Ridge throws the ball roughly six times per game — each completed pass is going for an average of 24.4 yards.
“We throw the ball very strategically,” coach Jerry Harris said.
Added Fetsis: “When we get the play-action and guys are biting, it’s so easy for me. The receivers are wide open; I just have to get the ball to them.”
And when he does, the Lions roll. Pusch Ridge has scored 60 or more points in five of its last six games.
The one exception was last week, when the Lions scored only 42 points against rival Northwest Christian. The teams have a heated history: Pusch Ridge beat Northwest Christian for the 2015 title; Northwest got its revenge in the first round of last year’s playoffs.
“Were we glad to get the Northwest Christian monkey off our back last week? Yes,” Harris said. “Anybody on the team who participated last year would be telling you a fib if they didn’t admit that.”
Fetsis is among a half dozen Lions seniors who were sophomores when Pusch Ridge won the 2015 title. They’ve been a driving force behind the perfect season, Harris said.
“They’ve been playing together for a long time, they trust each other, they love each other, they’re committed to each other,” he said. “That’s made a huge difference.”
Fetsis says he isn’t sure what awaits him next. The quarterback wants to walk on at the UA; if that doesn’t work out, he has scholarship offers from a handful of Division II and Division III schools.
“I’m just really enjoying these last couple of weeks,” he said. “Our team is pretty senior heavy. We’ve played together for 5-6 years, and we know we don’t have anything left after this so we pushed super hard and the rest of the team has followed our lead. We’re working like a well-oiled machine right now.”