When Peninsula quarterback Burke Griffin tosses the ball up to 6-foot-1 sophomore wide receiver Chase Wittmers, he generally feels pretty confident about the chances of a completion.
“If the ball is in the air, he thinks it’s his and he’s going to get it,” Griffin said.
With speedy receivers like seniors Alex Beloate and Jace Keim stretching defenses, Wittmers brings a different dynamic to the Seahawks’ offense.
At 6-foot-1, Wittmers isn’t freakishly tall, but he’s taller than most corners defending him.
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“I’m not the biggest guy out there,” Wittmers said. “But when I’m going against a 5-11 corner, that’s a couple inches to play with. I just try to box them out and get as much separation as possible.”
Wittmers also plays basketball for the Seahawks, so the ability to box players out may stem from that background. Wherever it comes from, it’s a valuable asset.
“He’s just a natural athlete, he knows how to box guys out and use his body,” Griffin said. “He’s a fantastic blocker. He has huge, strong hands. He goes and gets the ball. He does a lot things people don’t notice — a good half of his play is just him blocking. He’s so strong and powerful.”
Wittmers is another weapon in a Seahawks offense that is averaging 35 points per game this season and has exploded for 133 points in the past three games.
“It’s just fun to watch,” Griffin said. “We have a guy like (Alex) Beloate, who runs a 4.5 (second 40-yard dash), and then having a guy like Chase who can go up and get the ball, it just gives us a whole different look.”
Wittmers has 21 catches for 266 yards and three touchdowns so far this season, making an impact early in his career, as just a sophomore.
“It sets the foundation for the next couple years of our program,” Wittmers said. “We have other sophomore getting legitimate playing time out there, too. It’s nice to have a bigger role to set that foundation. We had a large senior group graduate last year. I just happened to be the next man up. The team has embraced me really well.”
Oftentimes, there can be animosity from teammates when an underclassmen takes targets away from older players. That’s not the case with the Seahawks and Wittmers, according to Griffin.
“We’re all close,” Griffin said. “I think the way our offense is working, it can be anybody’s night. We had three receivers catch touchdowns last week. All the guys know it could just as easily be them. So there’s no resentment there. … We have no shortage of athletes, they all can make plays. They make me look good.”
Wittmers is soaking in everything he can from watching the other receivers in practice and games.
“Those guys are great leaders and mentors,” Wittmers said. “They’re always helping out the younger guys. With the amount of speed and talent we have, you’re not always going to get the ball. When you do, you just try to make the biggest play you possibly can out of it.”
Wittmers is hoping to play at the next level. While he’s further along than most sophomores in the area, he said he’s always looking to grow.
“I need to get a bit faster — I think that’s the biggest thing,” he said.
But for now, Wittmers is happy to see the ball keep coming his way and is making the most out of his opportunities.
“We just want to keep playing as a group, playing 11-as-1,” he said. “We’ve really come together and we’re really clicking as an offense.”