As a freshman, Jaedyn Prewitt saw only a little game action as quarterback for the Whitworth Pirates, attempting and completing just three passes in his first season.
But it was a memorable year for the Pirates, who won the Northwest Conference and a first-round game before losing in the second round of the Division III playoffs.
Now a fifth-year senior playing out one last campaign thanks to the COVID-year waiver, Prewitt seeks to end his Whitworth career in the way it began: with a playoff run.
“That was my first year, and we want that back,” he said. “We want it back now.”
In 2019, the year after that playoff appearance, Prewitt didn’t see much more game time as a sophomore behind incumbent starter Leif Ericksen, but he shined in the four-game, COVID-shortened spring 2021 season: He threw for 1,074 yards – 10.4 per attempt – and 11 touchdowns as the Pirates beat Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran twice each by a combined score of 167-51.
Then came last year, when Prewitt was the primary quarterback over the team’s first nine games, the last of which was a 14-7 loss to Pacific that cost them a shot at the playoffs, and Prewitt led the team in passing with 1,758 yards. That was fourth-most in the NWC.
Gio Fregoso, a junior who, like Prewitt, attended Monroe High School, was one of two other quarterbacks to play significant minutes last season. Fregoso started the team’s final game last season (a 16-10 loss to George Fox) and threw a touchdown each in mop-up work against Willamette and Puget Sound.
Caleb Christensen played in five games and attempted 93 passes last season as a true freshman. He played so well in a win over Lewis & Clark, completing 28 of 42 passes for 407 yards, that he started the next game against Linfield.
That didn’t go as well for him or the Pirates: Christensen completed 11 of 18 passes before halftime, but by then the Pirates trailed 35-0 and Prewitt played the second half in relief. Whitworth lost 42-7.
This year, though, Christensen is serving a faith-based mission and is away from the team, making Prewitt the most game-experienced quarterback in a group that includes two other returners with juniors Fregoso and Noah Stifle.
This fall, that group also includes three other offseason additions: freshman Logan Lacio, who played at Kaiser High in Bothell, and then a pair of transfers who are competing for the starting job this fall in Jack Bastable and Ryan Blair.
Bastable previously was at D-III power North Central and was part of a national championship team in 2019. Blair, the Greater Spokane League Offensive MVP as a Mead High senior that same year, spent last season at D-II Western Oregon but did not appear in a game.
Prewitt spoke excitedly about all the talent in the quarterback room, specifically the two transfers.
“(Blair) throws a pretty ball. He makes everybody around him better,” Prewitt said. “And then Jack (Bastable), he’s super smart when it comes to the film room. He knows every coverage. When coach (Ian) Kolste asks a question, he’s the first one to answer.
“They make that room really fun. I’m really excited about our group.”
That depth, too, has made the defense better, senior safety BJ Mullin said.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re taking reps against the 1s, 2s or 3s, you’re facing good quarterbacks,” Mullin said, “which is good. As a defensive back, to get better in practice you need to face really good quarterbacks, and we’ve got them all up and down the roster. The depth has improved.”
For as much as Prewitt has been a constant in the quarterback room, he has seen almost yearly change at coordinator. Prewitt is now playing for a different coordinator for the fourth consecutive year, though No. 2 and No. 4 are Kolste, the former Whitworth quarterback who served as interim coordinator in the spring 2021 season and then spent last year as a quality control assistant with Division I Southern Utah.
But Kolste, the 2017 NWC Offensive Player of the Year, is back at Whitworth, and Prewitt said his coach “learned some pretty good stuff” from the other programs he’s been a part of since his playing career.
All of that adds up to a quarterback situation for the Pirates that seems to be plenty rich in talent but also one with fierce competition.
“We’ve got some guys. I love our QB room,” head coach Ron Sandberg said. “They all have a role. They all have a voice.”
Prewitt has been through a lot in his time at Whitworth, he said. He was on a playoff team. He played meaningful games in the spring for the first time in his life. He’s been a starter at a program that has grown accustomed to winning, now 58-17 during Sandberg’s eight-year tenure. He’s even grown about four inches since his freshman year.
“Patience is a big (improvement), for myself,” he said. “And knowing I can go out there and have that confidence in myself. I’m not the young guy. I’m not a first-year starter anymore. I’ve got to get that through my head.”
For himself and for the team, he doesn’t want his last year at Whitworth to go like the previous season, either.
“Last year was a letdown, at least in my eyes,” Prewitt said. “I tell people (we were) 7-3, and they’re thinking that’s a good thing. For myself and for the team, we’re too competitive for that. We’ve got to be 1-0 every week.”