If you look at Logan Brettell and Kyle Zimmerman’s statistics from this season, the numbers can be overwhelming.
The quarterbacks — Brettell from Baker University and Zimmerman from Northwest Missouri State — have combined for 8,473 passing yards, 87 passing touchdowns and only 17 interceptions.
Both have led their teams to national title games on Saturday: Baker plays Saint Francis (Indiana) for the NAIA championship, and Northwest Missouri State will take on North Alabama for the Division II crown, though Zimmerman was injured during last week’s semifinal game, and his status for this weekend is questionable.
Aside from the similarity of their college programs, Brettell and Zimmerman also originate from the same high school roster at Blue Valley. Zimmerman was a starter there in 2010 and 2011, leading the Tigers to a Kansas Class 6A championship in 2010. Upon Zimmerman’s graduation, Brettell took over the reins, starting in 2012 and 2013, and bringing Blue Valley another state title his senior year.
“Logan was a sponge, and Kyle was such a great leader,” Blue Valley coach Eric Driskell said. “Logan was a young guy waiting his turn, and knew, ‘Hey, I want to be like Kyle.’ Kyle set the groundwork, and Logan was able to put his spin on it when it was his turn.”
The two were remarkably similar on the field, according to Driskell. Both are dual-threat quarterbacks, both were whip-smart in Blue Valley’s offense and both are lead-by-example types.
The symmetry has continued into their college careers. Zimmerman, a senior, is third nationally in Division II in passing yards this season (3,663). Brettell, a junior, is fourth in NAIA in total offense per game (363.7 yards). Baker is also the top team in NAIA in total passing offense.
Leading a traditionally high-powered offensive team in high school helped both in their transitions to the next level, according to Brettell.
“Our system at Blue Valley was probably a little more complicated than other schools, so when I came in as a freshman in college, I didn’t really feel like I was behind,” Brettell said. “There was stuff I needed to learn, but I felt like I wasn’t behind in the way that some quarterbacks feel when they get to the next level.”
According to Driskell, Blue Valley’s offense is slightly more advanced than other high school offenses. Quarterbacks there are more often asked to make pre-snap reads and convert a play based on coverage they see. Each was frequently asked to run a zone-read scheme, deciding in a split second whether to tuck and run or drop back and throw. And with a spread offense, there were always more options that a quarterback had to sort through.
“It requires players to learn a lot,” Driskell said. “They both did that, and that process allowed them to do the same at the next level. Their success now kind of mirrors what they did here.”
Now, years later, both could come away from this weekend with a national championship ring.
"You get in that flow of the season and it's kind of hard to stay in contact with people, but we caught up in the last week,” Zimmerman said. “We texted each other and congratulated each other on our teams' seasons. It's great to see Logan and that program doing so well. I wish them nothing by the best this weekend."