Jack Colletto completed his first eight passes as the first-year starting quarterback for the Camas High School football team. He led touchdown drives on his first three possessions.
That was three months ago against Central Catholic, which on Saturday will play for Oregon’s 6A state title.
Camas, meanwhile, will be playing for Washington’s 4A state title.
And Quarterback Jack isn’t so unknown anymore.
“He came out of the season on fire — and right then we knew we had a pretty special quarterback,” Camas coach Jon Eagle said.
Colletto didn’t just carve up Central Catholic. But also Oregon’s Sherwood High School and Coeur D’Alene in Idaho. Then he tore through the 4A Greater St. Helens League, and Camas scored at least 45 points in playoff wins over Enumclaw, Graham-Kapowsin and Sumner.
Camas (13-0) enters a state final against Richland (13-0), at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Tacoma Dome, with Colletto having completed 177 of 284 passes for 2,662 yards and 25 touchdowns, and running for a team-high 1,165 yards and 20 touchdowns on 146 carries — and he’s a two-time all-league safety.
It has earned the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Colletto, a senior, The News Tribune’s all-state football player of the year.
“He’s such a fast, physical runner — kind of like a Jake Locker-type of kid,” said Graham-Kapowsin coach Eric Kurle. “He’s got that big build, he throws good, and he’s probably only going to get better. I think he’s going to be a steal in college.”
The comparison to Locker, the former Ferndale, UW and NFL quarterback, sat well with Battle Ground coach Larry Peck, who watched Colletto throw for 399 yards and seven touchdowns and run for 54 yards against his team.
He did take one exception.
“I would say that he’s a much more accurate passer than Locker ever was,” Peck said. “He just carves you up. But like Jake, he is not one bit afraid of contact. He’ll take on bigger guys than him, and how he doesn’t get injured, I don’t know.”
Colletto said he likes to mold himself after a different quarterback.
“Before the game, I like to watch some Brett Favre videos and just watch his toughness,” Colletto said. “I’m not him yet, obviously, but you’ve got to pop right back up, no matter how hard people hit you.”
Take the Sumner state semifinal game, for example.
On third-and-long, Colletto saw Sumner bringing an all-out blitz. He knew he was going to take a big hit from a Sumner linebacker, but he hung in the pocket just long enough to hit his diving receiver on a fade to the sideline for a 30-yard gain.
“I don’t think that shot hurt as bad as it looked,” Colletto said.
How about the first TD he threw in that game, when he scrambled around for eight seconds on third-and-goal before hitting his receiver in the end zone just as he was sent to his back by a Sumner player?
“That one woke me up a bit,” he said.
Sure, Colletto was the 4A GSHL’s offensive MVP this year.
But the only way he was getting on the field consistently in his junior year was if he played safety on defense. He was the backup quarterback last season behind senior Liam Fitzgerald.
Colletto transferred to the school in Southwest Washington from Kingston High School, where as a sophomore he was the starting quarterback on a team that beat Franklin Pierce in overtime to reach the 2A state playoffs.
Then his family moved to Camas, a school bent on winning its first state title after coming so close in the past six years. The Papermakers have reached the Tacoma Dome four times since 2011, including a loss to Chiawana in the 4A title game in 2013.
“Getting acclimated to the new program and getting to know everybody — that was the biggest challenge,” Colletto said. “I just had to keep doing the work, the quiet work.”
Even if that meant not being the starting quarterback for the first time since the third grade.
The time off allowed him to work on his release, getting the ball out quicker and learning the Camas offense. Eagle said he’s never had such an expansive playbook as this year because of Colletto’s dual-threat skill set and his natural ability to run the read-option offense.
“We have a lot of read-option stuff that you have to drill a lot,” Eagle said. “I’ve had quarterbacks where no amount of drill was going to allow them to really get it. But Jack was just natural.”
Against Graham-Kapowsin, Colletto threw for 176 yards and two touchdowns, he ran for 125 yards and two touchdowns, and he intercepted a red-zone pass.
He doesn’t have his college future set yet. And maybe having to wait and be a backup quarterback last year hindered that process.
But it’s certainly not what’s most on his mind this weekend.
“I really didn’t think about it too much,” Colletto said. “The biggest goal we had was to get back to the state championship and win the state championship. So however that needed to be done is what I was willing to do.
“And what I was told, and I’ve kind of realized this — same with Carson Wentz and some of those guys — is there is really no one way to get to a certain destination. A lot of the quarterbacks who get recruited early just mature early. That’s not really the path I was given. I’m still maturing and growing, and I think my best days are ahead of me.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
TNT ALL-STATE FOOTBALL TEAM
Player of the year: QB/DB Jack Colletto, Camas, 6-3, 220, sr.
Coach of the year: Monte Kohler, O’Dea
Quarterback — Kaden Jenks, Royal, 6-2, 215, sr. — Starter for past 3 1/2 seasons has Knights on a 26-game win streak and trying to win back-to-back state titles. Completing 64 percent of passes and has 2,260 yards and 34 touchdowns.
Running back — JJ Jerome, Monroe, 6-0, 210, sr. — Bearcats reached the state playoffs for the first time since 1991 thanks in large part to the zigzagging Jerome, who had 230 carries for 2,362 yards and 31 touchdowns. Averaged 10.3 yards per carry.
Running back — Andrew Vargas, Chiawana, 5-10, 210, sr. — Ran for 2,783 yards in 11 games this year. That was 96 yards short of Chiawana grad Austin Urlacher’s 4A single-season rushing record, and Vargas played in three fewer games.
Wide receiver — Devin Culp, Gonzaga Prep, 6-4, 230, jr. — Oregon commit earned the GSL’s all-purpose player of the year award as a receiver and jet-sweep back for the league champion Bullpups. Averaged 11.8 yards per touch (receiving or rushing).
Wide receiver — Tre’Shaun Harrison, Garfield, 6-2, 190, jr. — On a 69-yard run against Lynnwood, Harrison weaved through and around eight tacklers and outran one more. The 3A Metro Valley division’s offensive player of the year also was a first-team safety.
Tight end — Hunter Bryant, Eastside Catholic, 6-3, 240, sr. — All that slowed UW commit was a knee injury. Otherwise, he terrorized defenses with his strength, speed and leaping ability. Had 56 catches for 959 yards and 10 TDs in nine games.
Offensive line — Henry Bainivalu, Skyline, 6-6, 295, sr. — Skyline has produced a few NFL talents. How about the UW commit and four-year starter Bainivalu? “I think Henry is a future NFL lineman, for sure,” coach Mat Taylor told The Seattle Times.
Offensive line — Brody McKnight, Eastside Catholic, 6-3, 300, sr. — Earned 3A Metro Mountain division’s offensive lineman of the year award for the Crusaders, who reached the semifinals for the fifth consecutive season. McKnight started 46 games in his prep career.
Offensive line — Foster Sarell, Graham-Kapowsin, 6-7, 310, sr. — Army All-American was so valuable at left tackle for the Eagles that he was named 4A SPSL co-MVP. Growing sentiment is that Sarell might be the best O-lineman ever out of the Northwest.
Offensive line — Brigham Whitby, Richland, 6-0, 280, sr. — Whitby was the top-ranked, unbeaten Bombers’ most impactful player. Earned the Mid-Columbia Conference’s defensive player of the year award as a defensive tackle and was its offensive lineman of the year.
Offensive line — Quazzel White, Lincoln, 6-4, 305, sr. — The 3A Pierce County League’s offensive lineman of the year committed to WSU just before the Abes’ playoff game against O’Dea. Helped Lincoln win at least a share of league title each of his four years.
Multipurpose — Willie Patterson, Franklin Pierce, 5-9, 175, sr. — Two-time league MVP accounted for 59 total touchdowns this year. Scored throwing, running, returning an interception, returning a punt and returning a kick. Threw for 2,473 yards, ran for 1,473.
Defensive line — Julian Bruce, Liberty of Issqauah, 6-5, 280, jr. — Two-way standout for the Patriots. This defense revolves around Bruce. Has 103 tackles, 22 tackles for losses and seven sacks as unbeaten Liberty prepares for 2A state title game.
Defensive line — Caleb Davis, Bonney Lake, 6-4, 280, sr. — Earned the 3A Pierce County League’s MVP award because he dominated on Panthers’ No. 1 defense (23.5 tackles for losses, 12.5 sacks). Also was a great offensive lineman and punter.
Defensive line — Doug Russell, O’Dea, 6-5, 270, sr. — Russell’s ability to clog running lanes helped lift top-ranked O’Dea to the 3A state title game with a perfect record. Earned 3A Metro Mountain division’s defensive lineman of the year award.
Defensive line — Kelle Sanders, River Ridge, 6-5, 230, sr. — 2A SPSL Sound division MVP was The Olympian’s All-Area quarterback and a TNT All-Area defensive lineman. Heading to WSU for defense after finishing year with four tackles for losses and two sacks.
Linebacker — Michael Matthews, Camas, 6-2, 205, sr. — Montana commit and two-time 4A Greater St. Helens League’s defensive player of the year is physical and flies from sideline to sideline. Also doubles as the Papermakers’ starting running back.
Linebacker — Cade Otton, Tumwater, 6-5, 225, sr. — UW commit, as a tight end, caught game-winning touchdown passes against Bellevue and Union, and on defense finished with 123 tackles and three sacks. Grandfather is state’s all-time winningest coach, Sid Otton.
Linebacker — Ben Wilson, Sumner, 6-2, 215, jr. — Once he wraps up, you do not escape. Had 201 tackles this season for semifinal-bound Sumner. Also had 16 tackles for losses, 8.5 sacks and two interceptions. Easy pick for 4A SPSL defensive player of the year.
Defensive back — Salvon Ahmed, Juanita, 6-0, 185, sr. — Two-time 3A/2A KingCo offensive player of the year doubles as a shutdown cornerback for the Rebels. The UW commit and Army All-American once clocked a 4.32 40-yard dash at a Nike camp.
Defensive back — Anfernee Gurley, Archbishop Murphy, 5-11, 185, sr. — Two-time 2A Cascade Conference MVP is an impact player all over the field for the Wildcats. Even in shortened season, has 1,217 all-purpose yards entering 2A state title game.
Defensive back — Mack Minnehan, Woodinville, 6-0, 190, sr. — The 4A KingCo defensive MVP on a Falcons squad that held teams to 9.5 points per game (best in 4A). Beat Skyline for KingCo title when he broke six tackles for OT touchdown, then had game-saving deflection at goal line.
Defensive back — Darreon Moore, Kamiakin, 5-11, 175, sr. — First-team all-MCC defensive back and wide receiver is a big reason why Braves are playing for 3A state championship. Eastside Catholic credited Moore for shutting down its passing game.
Kicker — Ryan Henderson, Archbishop Murphy, 6-1, 205, sr. — As if the Wildcats didn’t have enough weapons, last week against Lynden, Henderson kicked a 56-yard field goal. Also kicked field goals of 54 yards and 50 yards against Olympic.
Punter — Ryan Rehkow, Central Valley, 6-4, 205, sr. — Two-time all-GSL punter averaged 47.9 yards on 29 punts for the Bears. BYU commit has brother, Austin, who punts for Idaho and is a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation’s top college kicker.
All-purpose — Connor Wedington, Sumner, 6-0, 190, sr. — TNT All-Area player of the year and UW commit had 1,460 rushing yards (9.5 per carry) and 2,048 all-purpose yards. Had a TD of 50 yards or longer in each of first seven games before separating his shoulder.
TJ Cotterill: firstname.lastname@example.org