The Press Newspaper
Lake football players Nick Walsh and Jared Rettig are simply not on the same page.
A 5-foot-10, 205 pound senior, Walsh is a returning first team All-Northern Buckeye Conference linebacker who bullied his way to 110 tackles last year.
Rettig, a 6-1, 180 pound junior quarterback, has already piled up school-record passing stats, including 281 completions in 465 attempts for 4,663 yards, 52 touchdowns, just 16 interceptions, and a 60.4 percent completion rate. HIs rushing numbers include seven touchdowns and accolades include second team All-NBC, honorable-mention all-district, and team MVP last year.
Off the field, Rettig's favorite class is business law. He carries a 3.5 GPA and in his rare free time, he says he simply enjoys hanging out with friends. Walsh has compiled a respectable 2.7, digs film literacy and going to the movies with his pals.
Next spring, Walsh will come in as a third-year varsity baseball player, and a returning HM All-NBC catcher, and often answers to the nickname "Bruce" from his classmates and friends, who say he looks a lot like the shark character who goes by the same name in the Disney classic "Finding Nemo" when he smiles.
While Rettig, who simply goes by "J.R.," or "Junior," will star as a starting shooting guard this winter, and is one of the cornerstones responsible for the Flyer boys basketball program that finished 19-4 in '12-'13. The team once put up 118 points against backyard rival Genoa, and finished second only to powerhouse Otsego in the final NBC standings.
"Jared is a great, great player, but you're right, we are different," says the 17-year-old Walsh, who is also the defensive captain and signal caller for Lake's rabid 4-3 defense.
"He's really got a great arm, and he can run well when he has to, and to somebody who's never seen him play before, I'd tell them that Jared makes a lot of great decisions on the football field, and that the best thing about him is that he works hard all the time, and is always competitive," Walsh added.
The 16-year-old Rettig responds, "I agree that Nick and I play pretty different games because I think Nick likes to be the guy who hits you right in the mouth on the opening kickoff…just to see how you'll respond. Nick plays with a lot of passion. Nick has high energy, which carries over well to the team. Nick is our defensive leader. He just does a great job at what he does.
Walsh strikes back, saying "Actually, I'd say we're a lot alike as leaders because I think we're both lead-by-example leaders, who can also be very vocal leaders, when things aren't going the way they should out there. When things go wrong, we aren't afraid to tell people the way it is, and how things should be done. And I think our team responds well to both of us. When Jared is out on the field, I think our teammates play with more confidence, just from his presence."
Rettig counters, "Nick is a really good leader, and like I said, he's the high-energy guy for us, who leads both vocally and by example. He's that guy who is always pumping you up, and going crazy. He's the last guy in the weightroom everyday, and he's always pushing himself to the limit, which makes him a great example to the younger kids. Personally, I think I try to lead more by example than in any other way, because I like to go out there and just do it instead of saying it. But the guys…they respond really well to Nick's leadership. That's a great intangible Nick has."
The Flyers started the season with convincing wins over Fremont St. Joseph Central Catholilc, 21-0, Northwood, 56-20, and Ottawa Hills, 55-6 St. Joe has been to the playoffs three out of the last four years, and are reigning '12 Midland Athletic League champs.
Walsh helped cool the Crimson Streaks by leading a stifling Flyer defense that limited Streaks' skilled athletes Kyle Veleba (QB), Mitchell Gonya (TB), and Jake Yeckley (WR) to 126 yards of total offense, including 67 on the ground). They chased Veleba all over Lake Community Stadium, forcing a turnover, and finding the grit to ground out 162 rushing yards, which Walsh capped off with a 77-yard touchdown scamper on a jet-sweep.
In the highly-anticipated "Battle of Lemoyne Road" against traditional backyard rival Northwood, on the road, it was Rettig who stepped up to the tune of completing 11 of 17 passes for 154 yards and four touchdowns.
At Lake Community Stadium, Walsh, Rettig, and company truly all turned in a performance by dominating a resurgent Ottawa Hills program in front of the home crowd on the strength of Rettig's 126 yards through the air, three touchdown strikes, and one touchdown run.
A Walsh-led defense stymied the Green Bears' rushing attack for 49 yards on 34 carries; and a celebration of other splash plays were turned in by their supporting cast, including TD receptions by Adam Duncan, Todd Walters, and Brandon Short; an 89-yard kickoff return by Duncan to open the game, and a 28-yard pick-six by Walters to help seal it; and TD runs by Marcel Bryan and junior running back Dustin Perkins.
Walsh's best play of the year so far, if you ask Rettig?
"I'll have to go with this year vs. Fremont St. Joe, when he made a series of great plays," says Rettig. "It's when we were on defense, and they were driving down to our 25-yard line. Well, Nick causes a fumble with a huge hit, recovers the fumble, and comes back the very next play on offense to run for about an 80-yard touchdown. That was one of the best series of plays I've ever seen."
The quarterback's '13 highlight-reel moment, that's most amazed the linebacker?
"My favorite Jared Rettig play of the year was probably his touchdown against Ottawa Hills at the start of the second half," allows Walsh. "It was the nail in the coffin of that game, and was a great feeling to know we were going to start our season off 3-0."