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November 17, 2006

Sweetman prepares for storybook finish

Going into the 2006 Husky football season, no one could have predicted the many plot twists and story turnarounds that have afflicted the Dawgs of Montlake. If head coach Tyrone Willingham had been privy to this book's ending, he probably would have rewritten the second half, or so he told members of the media at last Monday's press conference.

Every member of the press covering the Huskies knows this coach's desire to deal with "the facts" head on, and not speculate on the "what if's," in life.

So with the hyper-inflated importance of the Apple Cup obscuring the ultimate goals of the football program this year, it was odd to see Willingham dance around the question of who would start at quarterback in Pullman Saturday.

But then, losing all your starting quarterbacks to injury within a month of each other is, well, odd and unusual.

What he offered scribes was a number of scenarios under which Carl Bonnell, Johnny DuRocher, or Felix Sweetman would at least see action, if not start the game against the Cougars.

In the days since then, the facts have spoken, as it were - and it now appears Johnny DuRocher's season is over, and practice-squad leader Felix Sweetman is now in the number two spot on the depth chart. A long shot to play, Sonny Shackelford has taken snaps in practice as the emergency backup.

Considering the shoulder surgery Bonnell now faces once the season ends, and other injuries he's suffered in the last few weeks, it's a strong possibility Felix will play. There is not only a lot of support on the message boards for Felix to play - and the analogy most often used is "Rudy," but Sweetman also has the support of his teammates, the coaching staff, and of course, his family - who are thrilled to death.

"They support me through everything, you know?" he told reporters.

"They've always been there for me, they both have been at every game, so for me to end my career on the field, it would be like a storybook end."

Felix's sister Pam is a Washington graduate who recently took a job with the Oklahoma Sooners as Assistant Director of Marketing & Promotions. She is feeling understandably giddy over her brother's prospects this week, and told us, sadly, she will not be able to attend the Apple Cup, and wished she could cheer him on in person.

Senior Stanley Daniels, one of those in charge of protecting the quarterback, also expressed his desire to see the fifth year walk-on get some real game action, and like many others, praised Sweetman's work ethic, and called him a "great guy."

"He's one of the strongest guys on our team, pound for pound - which is kind of amazing, being a quarterback," he added.

Sweetman proved his ability as a High School senior in 2001 at Lakes High in Lakewood, Washington when he tossed 27 touchdown passes for 2,147 yards. This is the same school attended by former Husky Reggie Williams and current wide receiver Anthony Russo. In 2000, Lakes made it to the Class 3A state-championship game, but the recruitment calls he received those years were not from the school he wanted to hear from.

"I thought I'd have a chance to go to a bigger school," said Sweetman on Tuesday, "but I guess they were turned off because I only started one year in High School - my senior year. I could have gone to Central, had my school paid for, and not been in debt, (but if) you look at look at the big picture, that's not what it's all about. I wanted to be a Husky. I wanted to go to the University of Washington."

The young quarterback was sitting behind a line of recording devices in the the media room, and, he slowed his speech as the emotions of his last days of being a Husky crept up, and began to swell as he tried to make the writers understand.

"I've been watching games since I was six or seven years old, I used to sit up by tunnel eight up in the bowl end, so to be Husky quarterback would be amazing, it would be a life long dream. That's why I stuck with it. If it happens, it would be amazing."

When coach Tim Lappano sat down with the media, he spoke in measured tones, and praised his "competitive nature," and called Sweetman a "fiery individual."

Speaking of Saturday, he said, "I would love to get Felix in there a little bit. (on Saturday) he's been so good for us. Done everything and more we've asked him to do. He's done a great job on the scout team - before I even came here. This has gone on for the last couple three years. Here's the epitome of 'team guy'. He's dying to play. He came up here yesterday, and said, 'coach, what do you want me to think about tonight?' You've got to love a guy like that. The game is important to him. He loves to play, and yeah, I'd love to get him in."

You're not the only one, coach.


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