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Cole Karstetter takes a few snaps at quarterback under the watch of coach Jim Sharkey during a recent Ferris football practice. (Dan Pelle)

Karstetters pride of Saxons

Cole Karstetter and brothers Jared, Kurt have excelled at Ferris

The Karstetter name is readily recognizable to those familiar with Greater Spokane League athletics and beyond.

The last branch of the second generation in the Lilac City is Cole Karstetter.

The youngest Karstetter has watched a pair of older brothers leave their mark at Ferris. Jared was a two-year starter on back-to-back state championship basketball teams; Kurt started on the Saxons’ first state title football team.

Cole believes it’s his time. He credits his brothers for helping him prepare for his senior season.

“Jared and Kurt have done a great job of making me work as hard as I can,” Cole said. “They’ve taught me a lot about how the game should be played and how to get to the next level.”

Jared, a four-year starter at wide receiver for Washington State, played with the Parma Panthers – an Italian football team – last spring. The Panthers won the Italian Super Bowl. He broke his arm in the game. He’s called it quits on his playing career and started dental school last week at, of all places, the University of Washington.

Kurt is a backup linebacker at Idaho State.

Ferris football coach Jim Sharkey has coached a Karstetter every year since he arrived at the South Hill school in 2006.

“They have more similarities than they have differences,” Sharkey said. “They each have a super competitive nature.”

They come by their competitive personalities from both parents – Jerry and Perrianne.

Jerry was a standout basketball player at Central Valley, and he went on to play at Eastern Washington University. Perrianne, who has organized weekly team dinners for the football team the last eight years, said her boys got a good dose of athletic genes from her side of the family. Her brother, Scott Dahlquist, was a tight end at Idaho, and she was the fastest youth, boy or girl, in her hometown of Enumclaw through the eighth grade.

“She tells us we got our speed from her,” Cole said, smiling.

Said Perrianne: “The joke is I never get any credit. It all goes to Jerry. I did all the sports growing up. All Jerry did was basketball.”

Cole is in his third year starting on defense and second on offense. He switched from slotback to running back this year because Sharkey needed someone sturdy enough to handle the bumps and bruises of the position – especially since he will rarely come off the field.

In the Saxons’ 42-14 season-opening win over Central Valley, Karstetter picked up 90 yards on 12 carries and scored a touchdown.

Where Karstetter will likely prove most valuable, though, is at safety. He was a first team all-league pick on defense last year.

Go down the Karstetter tree and the limbs get shorter. Dad is 6-foot-6, Jared 6-4, Kurt 6-2 and Cole 5-11 (although he says he’s 6-0 with cleats).

Pound for pound, though, Cole Karstetter is one of the toughest players in the GSL.

“He’s the rock in the middle of the field on defense,” Sharkey said. “He quarterbacks our defense.”

Karstetter’s personal goal is to be the league’s defensive MVP.

“I enjoy defense the most,” Karstetter said. “It’s more my nature. I love the satisfaction of stopping people. There’s no more special feeling than shutting a team’s offense down.”

Off the field, Karstetter is a soft-spoken honors student with a 3.7 grade-point average.

His coaches want him to be more than a leader by example.

“They’ve taught me to be more vocal,” he said. “I’ve had to adapt.”

There’s a chance that Karstetter could join his brother at ISU. The school offered him a scholarship last spring.

“I’m keeping the door open right now,” he said.

His goal on offense is simple.

“I just want to score every chance I touch the ball,” he said. “I want to do anything I can to help the team.”