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Seton Catholic junior Joe Callerame is Mr. Versatility

Junior has played quarterback, receiver, safety and on special teams

By , Columbian staff writer
2 Photos
Seton Catholic junior Joe Callerame, right, evades a tackle Friday, Nov. 3, 2023, during the Cougars&iacute; 51-7 win against Tenino at Seton Catholic High School.
Seton Catholic junior Joe Callerame, right, evades a tackle Friday, Nov. 3, 2023, during the Cougarsí 51-7 win against Tenino at Seton Catholic High School. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

As tradition goes in high school football, if you reach the state semifinals in Washington, that means you’re practicing on Thanksgiving Day.

At Seton Catholic, that included a two-hour morning practice Thursday and a surprise for players: pie.

For junior Joe Callerame, football practice on a holiday traditionally filled with making memories is just one more memory in what’s been a season filled with them for the Cougars.

“It’s been surreal,” Callerame said. “I can’t even describe it, but everybody also knows that we’re nowhere near done.”

In what’s been a historic season for the Cougars, it continues this weekend in the Class 1A state semifinals. The Cougars (11-1) face Royal (11-0), winners of the past three 1A state titles and a program that’s won 11 state titles since 1996.

Kickoff is at 4 p.m. Saturday in Royal City.

For a program that’s never reached the state tournament until this season, Seton is now among the final four teams remaining in the 1A state playoffs. As a 12-seed, Seton pulled off first- and quarterfinal-round upsets of King’s and Cashmere behind late-game performances.

That includes individual performances by Callerame, Seton’s Mr. Versatility at receiver, direct-snap quarterback, safety and special teams specialist.

Playing receiver, in fact, is still a work in progress. Callerame grew up as a dual-threat quarterback and played the position until the addition of quarterback Kolten Gesser at Seton last season.

As a freshman quarterback in 2021, Callerame led the Cougars to the program’s first-ever playoff game in the Week 10 state preliminary round loss to Eatonville.

Growth continues, but the love of playing receiver was instant, he said.

“I love being a receiver; I love running routes,” Callerame said. “It’s great being a receiver.”

In fact, Callerame’s dependability isn’t solely at receiver. As the 1A Trico League’s co-MVP, he racked up 1,100-plus all-purpose yards and 16 touchdowns — including three special team scores — during nine regular season games.

No surprise, head coach Dan Chase said Callerame is simply dangerous with a football.

“He’s an extremely talented football player,” Chase said. “Every time he touches the ball, he could score a touchdown no matter where he is on the field, whether it’s a kicking game, whether it’s receiving or it’s in the back field. So it’s exciting.”

While Callerame’s versatility has been on display all season, perhaps it was best seen in last week’s 42-35 quarterfinal victory over Cashmere. Callerame tallied 160 all-purpose yards and accounted for three touchdowns — one apiece rushing, passing and receiving — to help the Cougars rally in Wenatchee after trailing 35-21 early in the fourth quarter. It was the second consecutive one-score victory by Seton.

“That’s where the brotherhood comes in,” Callerame said of the comeback. “You’re playing for the guy right next to you and when you know the guy next to you is playing 100 percent for you, that makes you playing 100 percent for him. Everybody’s playing for each other.”

As one of the few juniors who started as ninth graders two seasons ago, Callerame has watched the program transform from a 3-7 squad that reached Week 10 for the first time to now a state semifinalist. Confidence has come a long way, too, he said.

“That’s one of the big factors why we were able to make it so far,” he said. “We believe in ourselves and don’t worry about anything surrounding us or coming up.

“We just go to worry about ourselves and be the best we can be.”