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Drew Fetchik became the starting quarterback for the Hilltoppers this past season and made school history by leading the team to its first state title since the 1994 season. He will continue his athletic career at Marietta College.

After the Chardon Hilltoppers defeated Tiffin Columbian in the Division III state football semifinals, coach Mitch Hewitt admitted the coaching staff was worried about Drew Fetchik.

Although the Hilltoppers won, their quarterback had struggled. While he ran for 74 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, he only made one completeion out of three passing attempts for seven yards and tossed an interception.

The state championship game was just a week away.

“Even though we rolled in the Final Four that was not his best game,” said Hewitt. “We were a little nervous on how he was going to respond in the championship game. Were the lights getting too bright? Was the stage getting too big?”

The 6-foot-1 quarterback eliminated those concerns as he delivered the best game of his career in the state title game to pave the way for the Hilltoppers to overcome a 14-point deficit and win 31-28 against St. Francis DeSales in a double-overtime thriller on Nov. 21, 2020 at Paul Brown Stadium in Massillon. It marked the first time since the 1994 season that the Hilltoppers won a state title.

Hewitt said Fetchik’s leadership was fully on display during that game. The 6-foot-1 senior completed 10 passes out of 15 attempts for 249 yards and two touchdowns and gallopped for 86 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.

“He did everything right from audibles, to throws and to getting us in the right place,” said the 10-year Chardon coach. “He ran well, he was cool, calm and composed and showed unbelievable leadership by never wavering. What sometimes frustrated you about his lack of juice, energy and passion was the perfect demeanor in that type of high-pressure situation. It was unbelievable.”

Fetchik put the finishing touches on a historic senior season by rushing for 750 yards and 14 touchdowns and completing 55 passes out of 94 attempts for 1085 yards and 12 touchdowns.

After his high school journey ended, Fetchik embarked on the next steps in his athletic career when he announced his commitment to Marietta College. According to him, he felt that Marietta was the place for him as he was impressed by its recruiting efforts and developed a connection with offensive coordinator Lucas Poggiali.

All this came after being the starter at

quarterback for only one season. The Chardon senior’s first taste of quarterback at the varsity level came in the final regular season game of the 2019 season against Western Reserve Conference rival Eastlake North.

After the season ended, the coaching staff told Fetchik he was next in line to take the ball from under center.

“It was one of those deals where he was the next guy in the wings,” explained Hewitt. “He had paid his dues. He had taken a

million reps and invested in the offseason so he was the guy. You don’t go out and sign free agents and first-round draft picks. You have to groom people to play that position especially in our offense because it’s very detailed and complicated. It’s the hardest position on the field at any level in any sport.”

Fetchik’s senior season was in danger of ending before it even started when the pandemic hit. Despite the restrictions, it did not slow him down from getting his work in with his teammates.

“I know that the parks and fields were supposed to be closed but we did a few illegal workouts,” chuckled Fetchik. “We would go really early in the morning or when there weren’t people. We would be on the grass fields and would go anywhere that would take us and we would just get some work in.”

As Fetchik continued to prepare, one of the Chardon coaches told his father that if he had a big year he would be in line for some athletic scholarship offers. Sure enough, after the Hilltoppers rolled into the postseason, he landed his first offer from Allegheny College and the offers kept trickling in.

As exciting as the offers were, Fetchik kept his eye on the big prize. He maintained the same attitude he had throughout his athletic career which was an even keel mentality. He never lost his composure even when Chardon was trailing by 14 in the final minutes of the state championship game.

“I always kept thinking in the back of my mind that even if I was angry or I was pissed about something I would just try and stay level,” he said. “It obviously paid off in the end because we won.”

Not bad for someone who did not enjoy sports at all when he was a child. Fetchik said he was not athletic and did not perform very well. Two years after his father, Andy, became the principal at Chardon High School, the Fetchik family packed their bags and made the move from Willoughby Hills to Chardon.

Once he settled in at Chardon, Fetchik began to fall in love with football.

“I’m still not sure what clicked for me,” said Fetchik. “It’s just a funny story because I went from not being very good at all to things clicking, All of a sudden, I was fast and I could throw. My Dad took me to some of the football games when I was really young and I just loved the atmosphere.”

He signed on to the quarterback position in the Chardon youth league when he was in third grade. Fetchik said he wanted to put himself in a position where the outcome of the game rested on his shoulders.

“I think there’s just a lot more pressure,” said Fetchik. “My Dad always told me if you lose everyone blames you and if you win you’re pretty much the hero so I just liked putting my team in a position to win and I think I did that best at quarterback.”

When he entered high school, he started off with the freshman team then moved up to junior varsity during his sophomore year. There was a lot of experienced talent in front of him and he knew he would have to wait for his turn.

While he got most of his reps at quarterback he also got time as a cornerback.

“I really liked playing defense and I liked playing corner,” said Fetchik. “You need a lot of confidence to play there and I thought I had that and there was just something different about playing cornerback because there was not as much pressure on you and you can just have fun and play so that’s what I liked about playing cornerback.”

He made the varsity team his junior year and spent most of his time playing cornerback. His varsity debut was delayed as he suffered a meniscus tear in his left knee but only missed the first two games before he stepped on the gridiron against Alliance.

While Fetchik only had one year at quarterback, it’s a year filled with memories that will last a lifetime.

“I had so much fun. There were so many times when I enjoyed highs and times when I had lows and it obviously ended on a high,” said Fetchik. “I’m just so grateful I got the life experiences that I did. It’s obviously a once in a lifetime moment and you can’t take people away from that.”

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