Frank Catelli recalls the day his big brother Clancy got the OK to play football while he had to sit on the sidelines, simply not old enough to suit up.
Good things, as they say, come to those who wait.
On Feb. 1, Catelli signed a National Letter of Intent to play football for the Air Force Academy in the fall.
The Sequim High senior was named an all-league co-MVP for his play at quarterback and played mostly middle linebacker in 2011, but Air Force plans to use the 6-foot 3-inch, 236-pound multi-sport star as a defensive end.
“I love defensive end; it’s one of my favorite positions,” Catelli said. “It’ll be good for me in college.”
Catelli has made an impact with the Wolves in the past three seasons, racking up 25 sacks and 209 tackles.
But the 2011 campaign was a difficult one for Catelli. He twice went down with injuries, including a muscle strain that kept him out of the final four games and out of the playoffs.
The Sequim youth said he considered coming back and giving it a go in that final playoff game, a humbling, 52-21 loss to WF West in the first round..
“I got good support,” Catelli said. “They were like, ‘Frank, you’re going to play in college.’ I’m glad I did [stay out], too. I got healthy, just in time for basketball season.”
Even with a letter of intent, Catelli plans on staying busy with his high school athletic career, aiming to help Sequim’s basketball squad into the state tourney.
Oh, and there’s that 2A state shot put title to defend, too.
Catelli topped the field in the shot put at the class 2A state meet as a junior. That drew interest from some schools such as Arizona State and Washington State for his shot put prowess. Catelli said he also had some interest from Eastern Washington and Idaho for football, but thought the Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs, Colo., would be his best fit.
“I always wanted to serve [in the military] but I never knew how,” Catelli said. “This is perfect, a two-in-one.”
Catelli actually will start next fall with the Air Force Prep squad, playing other university prep teams and community colleges in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference league. Air Force Prep, which went 5-2 in conference play and 6-3 overall, plays teams such as New Mexico Prep, New Mexico Military, Butler, Fort Scott and Garden City.
Playing for Air Force Prep won’t affect Catelli’s four years of football eligibility.
What the defensive star does hope to affect is Air Force Prep’s pass rush, one that recorded just four sacks in 2011.
The plan, Catelli says, is for the team to put about 40 pounds on him to get the Sequim athlete closer to 275 pounds, so he’ll be able to do battle with the 300-pounders in the Mountain West Conference.
“He’ll do fine,” said Sequim coach Erik Wiker, a former collegiate offensive lineman.
“I played against defensive ends who went to the pros. I think he can definitely play. He’s a multi-year starter. They’re going to tap his potential for sure.”
Catelli noted that he got some insight into how to take on top offensive linemen in practice as a sophomore going up against all-state lineman Thomas Gallagher, who now plays for Georgetown.
Said Catelli, “I just want to do the best I can do.”
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.