An Outsider's Take On Highlander QB Brett Rypien - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

An Outsider's Take On Highlander QB Brett Rypien

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I just moved to Spokane from California in July. I have only seen Brett Rypien play live once (and on television a couple of times), and I can't help but feel as if I am somehow a witness to something special. 

The Shadle Park junior quarterback solidified his spot in Washington football history already this season by throwing for 613 yards against Mt. Spokane on Oct. 03 and scoring nine total touchdowns. I watched a live feed of the game on the NWPrepsNow website from SWX's live stream (little did I know I would be working here a little over a month later), and I knew I had witnessed something legen... wait for it...dary, legendary!

Tonight, Rypien is playing against the same team in a crucial playoff game for his school. At this point tonight's will be the biggest game of his life. If his Highlanders (9-1, 8-1 Greater Spokane League) can beat the Wildcats (8-2, 7-2) they will take the first step of being on their way to history. According to its website, no GSL 3A football team has ever won a state championship. Ferris was the last GSL school to win one in the 4A class, and the Saxons handed Shadle Park its only loss this season.

And with Rypien at the helm of the Highlanders' ship, I don't see a 3A school who can beat them. He spreads the ball around better than most college quarterbacks. While the average high school QB struggles to go through three, or even two, progressions Rypien reads the field like a young Peyton Manning. I've seen Rypien throw the ball in person. It's fast, tight and hard like a Brett Favre to Donald Driver bullet over the middle, and he can loft it downfield with the best of them to boot. I've seen his pocket footwork and his Andrew Luck-like scrambling ability is impressive. In a different system Rypien could probably run the read-option if need be, he is that athletic. 

While his 3,266 regular-season yards and 67-percent completion percentage have people raving that he is the greatest thing to happen to inland northwest prep football since Bishop Sankey, I think it is the intangibles that truly make make me think Brett Rypien will become a nation-wide household name in a few years. People in the D.C. area might even say someday, "Mark Rypien who?" 

Possibly the most impressive quality that many may overlook is Rypien's demeanor. It is about more than the stats when it comes to this budding star. He is just a good young man. When you interview him he is eloquent and speaks well of his teammates even when the question is directed at one of his accolades. In a generation of Johnny Manziel's and Richie Incognito's it is refreshing to see a high school kid with a good head on his shoulders showing more character on a daily basis than either of those guys could ever muster in their dreams. 

Coming from my days covering prep football in Cali, Rypien reminds me of another quarterback who I used to cover, Andrew Elffers (Maranatha HS, Pasadena, Calif. class of 2013) who is currently playing at Azusa Pacific University. 

While no one up here probably knows who Elffers is, he was someone who comes to mind because he was actually offered scholarships by Eastern Washington and University of Idaho, two schools who would love to land a Rypien and probably don't have a chance, unless his senior season is a complete bust.

Elffers went to a smaller school, Maranatha, but boy could he zing a pass into a receiver in double or even triple coverage. Elffers played in a spread-style system in his sophomore year and threw for 3,328 yards and 37 touchdowns. Then all of his senior receivers left and the numbers dipped, a coaching and system change didn't help, but in his junior year Elffers still threw for 2,029 yards and 22 TD's in only 201 attempts. It got worse Elffers senior year when he was asked to do to much with an offensive line that consisted of freshmen and sophomores playing against some of the better teams in his area and Elffers got hurt and missed his chance to finish his season and likely a chance to play Division I football. 

I also mention Elffers because like he did following his sophomore campaign, Rypien will lose many of the targets he has come to know and love in his passing arsenal. Tanner Pauly, Skyler Kelly, Alvin Welch and Nick Kiourkas are all graduating after this season. Five names who have caught many passes from the Shadle Park no. 11 over the past few seasons will be moving on, and yes this is just a testament to Rypien's ability to spread the ball around, but I can also see this being a theme going into next season.

But I am hopeful that Rypien will do so many things tonight, possibly in the next three weeks and all of next season. 

I hope Rypien doesn't skip a beat and the underclassmen waiting patiently on the sideline will step up, just like he told me they would after his Highlanders beat up on Lewis and Clark a couple of weeks ago.

I hope Rypien sets records that no quarterback in GSL history, or even in the state of Washington, can never beat. He already is the GSL record holder for passing yards and total yards, and the numbers keep climbing exponentially.

I hope that I can tell my future kids some Sunday afternoon down the road that I interviewed the great Brett Rypien when he was still playing in high school. 

As for now, I will tune into SWX at 6:00 p.m. tonight and watch Brett Rypien play football. Not because I work here, or because I have to, but because it is down right fun to watch him lead an offense. And because there is no sport more pure than high school football. 
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