Sept. 26, 2009
The Other Half of Northwest's Dynamic Duo
Bryan Boettcher, Northwest Director of Media Relations and Sports Information
You'd be hard pressed to find a better safety tandem than the one Northwest Missouri State throws at offenses each week. That conversation starts with Myles Burnsides, the local hero, who serves as the reigning national defensive player of the year. To no one's surprise, Burnsides is the Bearcats' leading tackler through four games.
To be considered the nation's top duo, you have to have a good flank man and junior Aldwin Foster-Rettig has been the perfect compliment, compiling 110 tackles in a little more than two seasons. Despite missing two games to injury, he had 74 stops in 2008, three shy of Northwest leader Adam Vondrak, and was a second-team All-MIAA selection.
Together, Burnsides and Foster-Rettig have thrived in a defensive system where both know each other's roles inside and out. If caught on opposite sides of the field as the play comes in, they simply play the other's position instead of rushing to switch sides.
"Our relationship is getting better and better," said Foster-Rettig. "We know what the other does and have good communication. He basically reads my mind and he's a good playcaller."
Together, they've combined for 18 interceptions. Foster-Rettig has picked off a pass in each of the last two national championship games and returned both for touchdowns. He's the only player in championship history to return picks for scores in back-to-back championships.
Foster-Rettig has had a knack for finding the end zone at Northwest. He's returned three interceptions for touchdowns. He also recovered Northwest's blocked punt against Abilene Christian in this year's opener for a score. In fact, only six players on Northwest's current roster have more collegiate touchdowns than Foster-Rettig.
"I'd scored one touchdown in my whole life before coming to Northwest and that was off a punt return in my junior year of high school," said Foster-Rettig.
That score came while playing on a broken leg, something Foster-Rettig wouldn't learn about until after the season. It took four doctors to realize he had a torn meniscus and a fractured tibula.
"I had surgery two days after Nike camp," said Foster-Rettig. "I missed the first two games of my senior year. The knee still bugs me. I was told never to do squats again, but that's not realistic as a football player."
Foster-Rettig spent this past summer in Atlanta, working out with teammate and roommate Willie Horn and Willie's brother, Joe, who hauled in 58 touchdown receptions as a 12-year veteran in the NFL. After a month, he returned home to Dallas, Texas, and his mom, Demetra, who teaches troubled youth at an alternative school.
"She's my motivation," said Foster-Rettig. "She tries to change lives and I've seen her successes first hand.
"I keep a picture of her inside my helmet that keeps me focused and puts me in a good mood. I talk to her everyday. That's not typical for a college student, but Mom's all I have."
Demetra attended every home game the past two seasons. She stayed in Dallas last weekend on orders from her son to save money and watch the game on the computer.
It was the coldest day of the year when Foster-Rettig visited Northwest's campus during his senior year of high school. He'd received a questionnaire in the mail and had watched the Bearcats play for a national championship game on television.
"I came to Northwest because the academics were good and because I'd never been on a winning team," said Foster-Rettig. "I was the last person to sign."
Foster-Rettig chose to major in biology after attending a pre-dental school at Baylor University during the summer between his junior and senior years at West Mesquite High School. After working out with the Horn's this past summer, he did an internship in San Antonio where he assisted doctor's who were performing hip surgeries. Most recently, he's taken an interest in archaeology and anthropology and someday hopes to study ancient ruins.
In his free time, Foster-Rettig enjoys playing basketball, a sport he played in high school. In fact, he sat out football his sophomore year to focus on the hardwood.
"I wasn't a very good football player in middle school or high school," said Foster-Rettig. "I was smaller and slower than everyone else. I played shooting guard in high school until our center got hurt our senior year. Coach moved me to his spot I guess because I was the slowest guy on the team."
In talking to Foster-Rettig, you'd learn that his definition of slow is considerably different than most people's considering he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds. It's a humbleness he carries with him on and off the playing the field.
"You'll rarely see me celebrate or get excited," said Foster-Rettig. "Some people think I'm stuck up because I don't talk a lot. I keep to myself for the most part."
And that's where Burnsides reenters the picture.
"I don't know what we'd do without Myles," said Foster-Rettig. "He calls out the checks. Sometimes when we don't get a call, we'll make up our own. He basically reads my mind."
Foster-Rettig had two interceptions against Pittsburg State in the Fall Classic at Arrowhead two weeks ago to move his career total to seven. He's the first Bearcat to pick off two passes in a game since 2005.
"One of 11," said Foster-Rettig. "We go out as individuals, but we play as a team."
For more information, please contact:
Phillip Dowden, Media Relations/Sports Information
firstname.lastname@example.org | 660.562.1118 | Fax: 660.562.1582
Lamkin Activity Center | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468