Sandpoint High School senior Parker Pettit may not be the first…or second…or third name brought up during the debate over the state of Idaho’s best quarterback.
Mountain View’s Dawson Wahl is considered the best rookie in the state for signal calling — and with his size (6-4, 190), it’s not hard to see why.
Rigby’s Luke Flowers hadn’t even taken a varsity photo until last weekend, and the University of Arizona was already watching him.
And there’s Riply Luna, a three-sport star at Kellogg who just posted insane numbers (348 yards, six touchdowns on her 2022 debut).
But in terms of pedigree, perseverance, intelligence and – more importantly – winning football games, Pettit has shown it time and time again, especially by leading two Class 4A playoffs over the past two seasons.
He will be looking to accomplish something he has never done on Friday – beat Coeur d’Alene. The No. 2 Bulldogs visit the Class 5A powers on Friday in an attempt to end a 14-year losing streak.
“I can’t imagine a program he wouldn’t start for, quite honestly,” Sandpoint coach Ryan Knowles said. “Parker makes so many decisions and really should be credited with a lot of our success because he’s a great decision maker. He won five playoff games. I don’t think there’s anyone in the state who won that many playoff games before becoming a senior. year.”
The quarterback runs in the family for Pettit: His father, Tyler, held the position in Utah before passing the reins to each of his four sons – Oakley, Preston, Jaxon and now Parker, who were all callers of signal Sandpoint.
It was the first and only position he tried when he started the sport himself in third grade. Pettit (6-0, 205) still has never played another offensive position.
“I always looked up to them and they kind of paved the way for me because everybody knew all the Pettits were quarterbacks because of my brothers,” Pettit said.
Pettit was actually on the same team as Jaxon in his ninth year. It was the one and only time he was beaten for the starting position.
“He was the leader and I had never really seen that from him before,” Pettit said. “He’s helped me a lot by taking care of everything that really goes into playing this position, from leadership to composure. I’m really grateful to him because I was quite nervous.”
It was a good thing too because Pettit kind of got thrown into the fire in college the following season. After sitting out the opener with an elbow injury, his debut ended in a crushing 55-0 loss to Coeur d’Alene.
The Bulldogs started the 2020 campaign at 1-4 and averaged just 10.6 points per game in those first five games. However, they bounced back and won their next four games to reach the state semifinals for the first time in five years.
Pettit was named the 4A Inland Empire League Offensive Player of the Year for completing over 52% of his passes for over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also rushed for over 200 yards that season.
“It was a pivotal moment in our program. I’m not going to lie, it was difficult. We’re sitting here wondering, ‘Where is our future? ‘” Knowles said. “That’s when this team made the decision to step in. I attribute a lot to a guy like Parker who just decided to take a stand.”
Pettit also had to make another one last season.
Sandpoint started 1-2 after losses to Coeur d’Alene and perennial Class 3A powerhouse Homedale on the road.
Pettit, however, responded by leading the Bulldogs to seven straight wins, capped by an unlikely win from behind over Blackfoot in the state semifinals.
With the team leading 21-14 with more than two minutes remaining, he was faced with a third-and-16 from the shadow of his own goal post at the 15-yard line.
But remembering his brother’s teachings a few years earlier, he completed a 77-yard pass down the sideline to reliable old running back Gerrit Cox to set up a first and a goal at 8.
Two plays later, Pettit found Nathan Robere on a 3-yard touchdown pass to force overtime.
And in overtime, he connected with Arie Vandenberg for a 14-year-old touchdown pass. But instead of settling for another extra period, Pettit decided to try and win the game on the spot. He did just that by executing a speed left option and widening the gap for the two-point conversion to send Sandpoint to their first state championship game since 2015.
“It was crazy,” Pettit said. “Before all of this happened, our equipment manager gave me a thumbs up and said, ‘Great season’. And I was like, ‘The game isn’t over yet.’
“I don’t even know what to say. It was one of the best times of my life.”
But Pettit and company ended up falling to Skyline, 20-6, in the state title game. They are now 0-4 in the Finals since their only championship in 1997 – a year after Knowles ended his playing days with the Bulldogs.
“It sucks to go to the gym and see the 1997 banner up there and that’s it for football,” Pettit said. “I would really like to put 2022 up there.”
That’s not the only thing motivating Pettit in his final season, however.
Although he repeated as the 4A IEL Offensive Player of the Year by significantly improving his numbers at a 57% completion rate for nearly 1,600 yards and 16 touchdowns for just six interceptions last season, he has been kicked out of the all-state team.
Despite a 5-2 playoff record — those only two losses being to two-time defending champion Skyline — the only schools that have invited him to join their program are MIT and NCAA Division III Whitworth in Spokane. , Washington.
And despite a 4.3 GPA and SAT score of 1,510 (the max is 1,600), none of the 13 other NCAA Division I schools that have expressed interest, including Boston College , Syracuse and Washington State University, have not made official offers.
“Having been a scout, I will say the intelligence side is very underrated,” said Knowles, who previously coached at Colgate University in New York. “It’s frustrating for me and I know it’s frustrating for him. Everyone tells him he’s too short to play quarterback when there are 6-foot quarterbacks everywhere. But he doesn’t really let it get to him.
“But whoever gets it, whoever decides to invest in it, will get more than they thought, not less.”
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