Three years ago, Kalama senior Tucker Wetmore taught himself how to play the piano. It only took him three weeks to get the basics down, and he could play myriad songs he learned just by analyzing the keystrokes.
That same quick-study mind translated to the football field well. Wetmore’s ability to digest information on the fly and eject a positive outcome led to 20 touchdowns this season, and a game-sealing pass deflection in last week’s 20-13 win over Napavine.
As he steps into the Tacoma Dome on Saturday to lead the Chinooks against Liberty (Spangle), with kickoff set for 4 p.m., he’ll again need to analyze his surroundings, and if history proves anything, he’ll quickly show he can shine on the big stage.
“His ability to pick up routes and know what route to run on the fly (is big),” Kalama coach Sean McDonald said. “Last week, for instance, we put in a new passing concept on Thursday and we ran it on Saturday pretty effectively.”
Wetmore has the physical ability to cut on a dime while moving close to full speed, so any mistakes he does make can be covered up pretty quickly.
“I’m a really hands-on learner,” Wetmore said. “I was kind of smaller when I was little. I didn’t really grow up. I was a lineman in pee-wee, believe it or not. I’ve come a long way since then.”
On the offensive side of the ball, he can take a ball from two yards out, with six defenders right on top of him, and successfully reverse field for an 80 yard gain. He’s done it continuously, whether in the kick return game and as a receiver.
It all stems from him seeing the field in his own unique way.
“His vision is just amazing,” linebacker Corbyn Byrnes said. “ He can make a cut, see one guy and make that guy miss while also making other people miss him.”
Also a top hurdler and pole vaulter, Wetmore’s athleticism is there.
Assistant coach Brandon Walker, also Kalama’s baseball coach, would love for Wetmore to start in centerfield, even though he knows it won’t happen. Wetmore is a football player and track athlete at heart, though injuries have derailed both in spurts over the past three years.
He dislocated his knee midway through last season, and wasn’t fully healthy during the spring, when he brought home state medals in the hurdles and pole vault.
“I came into the season a little iffy about making certain cuts and going against bigger guys, but as the year progressed and as I grew as a player it didn’t bother me as much,” Wetmore said. “(McDonald) was pretty lenient when it came to the weight room, and I was behind what other players were doing. I got there, though.”
Kalama wouldn’t be the same team without Wetmore, McDonald said, a sentiment shared by players.
“Just the way he runs,” Byrnes said.”He runs fast and hard and doesn’t let anyone touch him and it’s pretty amazing. I love watching him play and it’s cool to see how much of a different player he’s become this year.”
When it came to his final game in a Chinooks uniform, Wetmore channeled his inner Al Davis.
“I want to win,” Wetmore said. “I don’t care how well I personally do as a player, if someone else goes off and we win, I don’t care. I just want that W.”