Josh Gettemy and Kyle Gettemy took differing athletic routes as brothers growing up.
Both led back to football.
Josh, a Yorkville junior, was more the multi-sport athlete, big on basketball and baseball in addition to football. Older brother Kyle, on the other hand, found a unique outlet when he was younger – Olympic weightlifting.
“I found it at a pretty young age and competed in it,” Kyle Gettemy said “Over the years Olympic lifting is pretty big with high school football, builds the things you need. I was always a smaller guy on the field, wasn’t really that heavy. Getting that level of strength and size helped me compete at a high level.”
The Gettemy brothers indeed are a big reason why Yorkville football has advanced to the program’s first quarterfinals since 1999.
Josh Gettemy, stepping in last Friday after Gio Zeman was sidelined with a shoulder injury, ran for 113 yards on 25 carries and rushed for three touchdowns – two in overtime – in Yorkville’s 34-31 four-overtime win over Moline.
Kyle Gettemy made 13 tackles and the stop on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line that ultimately sealed the win.
Kyle Gettemy got into Olympic weightlifting at a young age, around 8 years old. The dad of a former Yorkville teammate, Nate Kraus, ran a weightlifting program that Gettemy joined. Gettemy did competitions from around 10 years old, up until the COVID lockdown two years ago.
“I qualified for nationals three or four times, went once,” he said. “It’s been something pretty big in making me the football player that I am today.”
He isn’t alone in that regard, either.
“If you look at the big football programs, college, NFL, they’re not doing the traditional power lifting. They’re doing Olympic weight lifting with explosive power and lower body strength,” Kyle Gettemy said. “It’s pretty evident in my tackling over the years. I used to arm tackle, reach for tackles. Now I drive through and finish my tackles pretty well.”
Josh Gettemy never participated in weightlifting competitions, but he did use everything his brother taught him and ran with it.
Yorkville coach Dan McGuire said that the Gettemys were able to work with a lot of the Foxes’ football kids in the weight room, giving them pointers on lifting.
“They became dedicated and understanding how important it is to be good leaders and an influence,” McGuire said. “It created a light bulb for them and they’ve been consistent ever since.”
On the field, Kyle Gettemy in particular has made tremendous growth as a player.
As a junior he was a kid who played maybe a quarter a game. Now, he isn’t just playing all four quarters – he is leading the Yorkville defense in tackles.
“It’s a pretty amazing change,” McGuire said. “I think he had a chip on his shoulder. He wanted to play more last year. He flipped a switch and bought into what he’s doing. It’s tough to do. He’s one of the strongest kids on the team, bought into what we’re doing.”
Kyle said he’d played football since he was seven years old, and always been a starter on defense if not both ways.
As a junior he was small, 6-foot and 170 pounds. Coaches put him in at linebacker during a red and white scrimmage, but it became more of a developmental year for him. He made an impact on special teams, but was ultimately disappointed in his playing time.
“I knew this year I was not going to settle,” he said. “The offseason was huge for me. I put on some pounds, I think I went to seven camps over the summer. I was pretty dead set that I was going to make the most of my opportunities.”
His little brother, likewise, has made the most of his opportunities.
With Zeman sidelined, Gettemy ran for 249 yards and two touchdowns in a win against Oswego East. He made a spectacular one-handed catch for a touchdown in the first quarter last Friday, and true to form seemed to get stronger as the game progressed running out of the backfield.
“You never know what will happen. Josh made a comment to us as coaches last week that ‘I just want to play,’” McGuire said. “It’s a credit to him for taking advantage of his opportunities. He is the same person in terms of energy, doing whatever we ask.”
“Every opportunity given is one I want to take advantage of,” Josh Gettemy said. “It’s not like I want Gio to be hurt. He’s one of my good friends. But any opportunity I get I’m going to try to make the most of.”
Foxes’ clutch kicker
Hudson Fiene had one of the most unenviable jobs at Yorkville’s football field last Friday – kicking into a wind.
“I think it was probably the windiest game I played in,” Yorkville’s senior kicker said. “I believe it was about a 16 mile per hour wind. I had to aim at the right post. It was a strong cross wind. I had to be a little lighter on my plant, too, because the ground was very soft. I didn’t want to slip.”
Fiene did not slip, and he also didn’t slip up when his team needed him most.
Fiene made two field goals, one each in the third and fourth overtimes, in Yorkville’s 34-31, four-overtime win over Moline.
His toughest kick wasn’t even a field goal.
After Josh Gettemy was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for tossing the football in the air to celebrate a TD run in the second overtime, Fiene was backed up to close to a 35-yard extra point. Which he drilled.
“I was happy to pick up Josh,” Fiene said. “I don’t blame him for the celebration. It was huge for the team, but I was nervous and excited. When I stepped up to take the kick I was pretty calm.”
Fiene played soccer since the second grade, but in August 2021 his soccer coach called in 10 players to compete for a position on the football team. He won the spot, and now plays football exclusively.
“I don’t know if I ever played in a more fun game than that last Friday,” Fiene said. “It was very exciting.”
Reunion of former conference rivals
Saturday’s Yorkville-Batavia game will actually be a reunion of former conference rivals.
The Foxes and Bulldogs were two of eight members of the Western Sun Conference, which broke up after four seasons as a league following the 2009-2010 school year.
Yorkville won the last meeting, 14-12, in 2009. It was the last season Batavia missed the playoffs.
“This Yorkville team, they’re a lot bigger than any Yorkville Western Sun team I ever saw,” Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. “They’re a big, strong school – not 800 students like before, closer to 2,000. They are at the level that they belong. A ton of talent, and a ton of players.”
The current crop of players from the respective schools are not complete strangers.
Josh Gettemy said that Yorkville played Batavia all through middle school, and that they competed with them “neck and neck.” Kyle Gettemy said that Yorkville scheduled a JV game at Batavia earlier this season, although at the time they surely didn’t expect to be back for a varsity game.
“Everybody sees them as one of the top teams,” Josh Gettemy said. “It would be amazing to take them down.”
Batavia’s own two-way star
Yorkville has had success this season incorporating several of its defensive stalwarts on the offensive side, from Blake Kersting to Jake Davies to Ben Alvarez and Andrew Laurich.
So has Batavia, particularly late in the season.
Batavia senior linebacker Tyler Jansey, a Wisconsin recruit and the Bulldogs’ senior tackler, has also practiced with the offense all season. Late in the season, he has emerged as a force on that side of the ball.
After carrying the ball only 15 times over the first eight weeks, Jansey rushed for an eye-popping 234 yards on 21 carries Week 9 against St. Charles North. He’s rushed for 444 yards on the season.
“Our league doesn’t favor two-way players over the long term but once we get into the playoffs we want to be firing on all cylinders,” Piron said. “He’s an extremely powerful, fast, athletic kid. He can do a lot more than what he is doing right now. We have a lot of kids doing a lot of unique things.”