It's A Quarterback Bonanza -- Fitterer Returns To Happy Dilemma


Doug Strauss and Scott Fitterer, Kennedy High School's dueling quarterbacks, won't be feuding when practice opens Monday.

Their fight for the starting job is only figurative. Their friendship, and their mutual concern for their team, will keep this a civil war that is left on the football field.

"We can't be out here and have fighting among the quarterbacks," said Fitterer, a two-year starter at Class AAA Kentwood who transferred back to Kennedy last spring. "Players look to the quarterback a little bit (for leadership). They can't see you fighting."

Besides, after one wins the quarterback battle, the two still will be teammates with a common goal - winning the Class AA state championship. And they'll carry that same goal into basketball and baseball, where they both also excel.

"I just want to win," said Strauss, Kennedy's returning starter at quarterback. "Whatever it takes to win. . . . We're good friends. We've got two more sports to play after this together. We can't let this get between our friendship. That would hurt us for our next two sports."

Practices at high schools throughout the state in all fall sports begin Monday, the first date allowed under Washington Interscholastic Activities Association rules. Competition in some, such as nonleague soccer and girls swimming, begins Sept. 6. The first football games are Sept. 5.

Kennedy Coach Tom Merrill may be the envy of the rest of the Seamount League with two proven signal callers, both seniors, reporting the first day of practice. Then again, not many might enjoy being in his shoes when it comes to choosing.

Strauss, 5 feet 9 1/2 and 170 pounds, earned the starting job as a junior, after playing backup and seeing a good deal of action his sophomore year, when the Lancers steamrolled to the state semifinals. He guided Kennedy to a 6-3 record last fall that left the Lancers in a three-way tie for third place and a game out of the state playoffs. He is a two-year starter on defense at outside linebacker and safety.

Fitterer, 6-1 1/2 and 193, became the first freshman to make Kennedy's varsity football team, punting and playing safety. The summer before his sophomore year, however, his family moved from Burien to Kent and he decided to transfer to Kentwood, where his uncle, Pat Fitterer, was head boys basketball coach and Coach Dave Lutes ran a highly successful football program.

Fitterer earned the starting job at quarterback as a sophomore. He edged out senior Danie Lind, a backup the year before who was thrust into the starting role in the 1988 state championship game after the regular quarterback was suspended for violating the athletic code two days before the game. Although the Conquerors featured the run-oriented wishbone offense in '89, Fitterer passed for more than 1,000 yards, including 252 in the semifinal victory over Kennewick, as Kentwood landed back in the Kingbowl, where it lost for the second straight year.

Last season, Tom Ingles took over as Kentwood head coach and scrapped the wishbone. Fitterer passed for more than 700 yards as the Conquerors repeated as South Puget Sound League Puget Division champions. They reached the state quarterfinals before being upset by Franklin.

Late in the basketball season, when he was sidelined with a shoulder injury, Fitterer decided to transfer back to Kennedy, where he said most of his friends were. He started at shortstop for the Lancers.

Strauss, who also attended seventh and eighth grades with Fitterer at St. Bernadette School, admitted he felt a little protective of his position when he heard Fitterer was coming back.

"I definitely thought about the quarterback job," he said. "But I knew he started in all three sports (football, basketball and baseball) and I knew he'd help out a lot. Plus, I knew him."

Fitterer's position is clear.

"He's No. 1 and I'm No. 2," he said of Strauss.

Merrill said the same thing last spring and reiterated it this week.

"Doug's got the job right now and it's his to keep," he said. ". . . We'll end up playing the best quarterback. They're both going to play somewhere."

If the QB job stays with Strauss, who passed for 547 yards last season and rushed for 115, Fitterer is likely to become a running back. Strauss would probably be a wingback if Fitterer were calling the signals. Both should start on defense.

Neither is worrying about the QB decision.

"It's not up to us," said Fitterer, who continues to do exercises to strengthen what he called a "loose" shoulder. "We're not competing against each other. We're just competing against ourselves, to see what we can do."

Fitterer has the advantage in size, speed and arm strength, but Strauss knows the wing-T offense better. Kennedy switched to the wing-T the year after Fitterer left.

"Doug is the leader of our football team," Merrill said. "He leads verbally and gives a very positive physical example, also."

Fitterer also is considered a strong leader and, interestingly, was picked as the preseason all-state quarterback by Ron Seigel, who annually selects such a team.

"That's based on past performances and how your team has done," said Fitterer, considered a major college prospect. "You've still got to go out and prove yourself. It was nice to see that, but right now it doesn't mean anything. I need to go out and try to be the quarterback first."

Fitterer said the competition will make them both better quarterbacks.

"I'm just glad it's going to be either him or me," Strauss said. "It's going to be someone who knows what to do."

Fitterer said, "I look at this as an advantage. There aren't too many teams who have two quarterbacks who have had starting jobs. I think we're really lucky."