John Pettigrew is showing no respect to the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy football statistician. The stat person is taking the time to keep track of the senior’s massive number of rushing yards and touchdowns, yet Pettigrew doesn’t care about them.
Not a lick.
John Pettigrew is showing no respect to the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy football statistician.
The stat person is taking the time to keep track of the senior’s massive number of rushing yards and touchdowns, yet Pettigrew doesn’t care about them.
Not a lick.
Pettigrew never even asks about them. He doesn’t ask about how many yards he’s gained in a game or how many he’s racked up in a season. And if any numbers were just begging to be shouted from the highest press box, it’s his.
The 5-foot-9, 180-pound tailback has rushed for 2,072 yards and 10.6 yards a carry this season, ranking near the top of the state in both categories. He has also recorded 22 touchdowns.
His career statistics are equally impressive. Pettigrew has rushed for 6,300 yards as a three-year starter, including 1,952 a year ago. Royals coach Ray Carroscia believes he has gained half those yards after first defensive contact.
So why is Pettigrew so indifferent about his statistics? He has an explanation.
“Stats are OK, but I’m much more concerned with how I play and how I can get better,” he says. “I don’t really care about stats at all. I just focus on the next game.”
Which leads to the next question: What can a kid who has twice exceeded 300 yards rushing this season, including in one performance against rugged Wooster Triway, possibly do better?
“Take the last game (a 21-14 victory over Akron Manchester),” he says. “I could have done something to break a longer run or get another score. All of these games, even the ones where I did get 300 yards, I don’t even know how many yards I got until someone comes up and tells me.”
What nobody must come up and tell Pettigrew is that for the third time in four years, his Royals must face powerful Youngstown Cardinal Mooney in the first round of the Division IV playoffs. That is the thanks they get for earning a piece of a tri-championship in the Principals Athletic Conference this season.
The Cardinals toppled CVCA, 51-7, in 2005, and proceeded to roll to the state championship. Mooney blanked the Royals, 28-0, in 2006, before reaching the title game. CVCA then lost year in the first round to powerful Steubenville, 28-10. CVCA has never won a playoff game, greatly due to the beasts they are forced to face every year.
Indeed, the Royals haven’t exactly earned favorable draws for their efforts, but Pettigrew isn’t shying away. In fact, he’s genuinely thrilled about the opportunity to play the Cardinals in the first round yet again.
“No, I’m excited to play them,” he says. “Sure, they’re a challenge, but that challenges us to get better. It’s a great opportunity for us to work hard and show that we can do it. We have to pay attention to our assignments, do all our blocking and play right. Plus we have to commit fewer penalties.”
And they have to slam the ball into the guts of Pettigrew and Alex Utley, who took advantage of his playing time to rush for more than 1,000 yards as well.
Though Pettigrew is comparatively small, he has received scholarship offers from several Mid-American Conference schools. According to Carroscia, the reason for that is Pettigrew is small in stature only.
“I’ve never had anyone from a school tell me that his size is an issue,” Carroscia explains. “They use the expression that he plays big. He has a great combination of speed and quickness. He makes great moves and he’s very explosive.”
Opponents in the MAC will likely learn as much in the coming years. Pettigrew is considering offers from Akron, Kent, Bowling Green, Ohio and Eastern Michigan.
But football is not the only consideration as he contemplates his possibilities.
“I think about being on a nice, friendly campus with a safe environment,” Pettigrew says. “I just want to go to basically a nice school all the way around with good academics because I want to make sure I stay on top of my grades. I’m thinking about going into business and marketing.”
For now, however, he’s thinking about Cardinal Mooney. And not his stats.