Bettistea averaged 176 yards per game and 8.2 yards per touch while helping lead a rather young Allatoona team to a 7-4 record and a trip to the Class AAAAA state playoffs.
Based on his numbers, it would have seemed that Bettistea’s job would automatically be his as a senior.
However, Allatoona coach Gary Varner said during spring practice that all of Allatoona’s positions would be wide-open, indicating that even Bettistea would have to earn his own spot.
“It made me kick it into high gear,” said Bettistea, a member of the 2014 Marietta Daily Journal Dynamite Dozen. “It put a thought into my head, if there was a chance that someone else wants it more, I’m not going to let that happen.”
Bettistea focused his offseason on not only improving his own craft, but becoming a better student of the game. He studied a lot of film, did extra work on conditioning and put in the extra work at practice to prove he’s the man for the job.
As of now, it seems to be Bettistea’s job to lose.
It will also be his chance to bolster a list of college offers that already includes Old Dominion, Troy, Georgia State, Western Kentucky, Kennesaw State and Gardner-Webb.
There’s something else motivating Bettistea. He’s eager to break former Allatoona running back Miles Jones’ team career records of 2,142 yards and 30 touchdowns. Jones, now entering his junior season at Troy, led the Buccaneers to an undefeated regular season in 2011, with the team advancing to the Class AAA state quarterfinals.
“It’s going to take hard work, teamwork and going out there to work with my boys,” Bettistea said.
But Bettistea also knows there’s a more important goal than those individual accolades. He wants to go out with a state championship after the Buccaneers made back-to-back trips to the state quarterfinals in 2011 and ’12.
And with a more experienced team this season, Bettistea is confident that Allatoona can be a contender.
“I feel that this is a much better team this year, because we have lot more people coming back,” Bettistea said. “A lot of people know what we are doing, and we can build off that. Last year, it was more of a younger crowd.”
Patrolling the backfield has been Bettistea’s primary duty since he started playing football as an 8-year-old. He grew up watching the Detroit Lions and cited NFL great Barry Sanders as one of his boyhood idols.
“He can stop and start on a dime and knows how to get to the hole,” Bettistea said. “I also love that he was one of the guys in the league that was smaller (at 5-foot-8). People didn’t expect much from him.”
Not only is Bettistea 3 inches taller than Sanders, but he has his own running style. He said he can “stop and start on a dime” like Sanders, but his style is to run as fast and as hard as he can, and to be physical.
“I know I can run successfully, as long as I finish going forward,” Bettistea said.