For the second consecutive year, the Pacelli football team will take the field against rival Brookstone on Friday with a spotless 4-0 record.
For the second consecutive year, Brookstone will try to keep that streak at four.
Despite the Vikings’ (4-0, 1-0) progress, it seems most give the edge to the Cougars (2-2, 1-1) in this particular matchup due, in large part, to the fact they have won the matchup for eight consecutive seasons, averaging a 35-point win over the past three.
“They’re a powerhouse team,” Pacelli coach Randy Grace said of Brookstone. “They’ve really set the bar, set the tone for what you want your program to be like.”
Both teams enter the game confident they can unseat the other, Brookstone to get back on track for this season after a 21-0 loss to Dooly County last week and Pacelli to take another momentous step in its growth as a program. Their confidence stems from a number of areas, not the least of which is the quarterback position.
For Pacelli, it is Wyatt Peterson under center. In his second season as the team’s starter, the senior has been largely responsible for the team’s good start, hurting opposing defenses with his arm and his legs.
“He makes great plays on offense,” Grace said of Peterson. “He cuts to the sideline, he’s a coach on the field, he understands defenses and he understands his reads. This kid loves football. You pull for that kid.”
On the other sideline it is Miller Page, in his first season as the starting quarterback but his fourth as a starter on the team.
Page is a versatile athlete, who is among the defensive leaders as well. Last year, he played wide receiver on offense, but won the job to replace Duncan Fletcher at quarterback this year.
“If you asked me to give one word about (Page), I’d say he’s a gamer,” Cougars coach Brad Dehem said. “He can run the football and make them miss. Against Columbus (a 17-14 win), he made some key throws to put it in the end zone. When you have guys like that, you know it’s going to be taken care of.”
How those two individuals play on Friday will largely determine who leaves Diemel Field with a ‘W’.
Both Peterson and Page understand the importance of their play Friday, as it has been all season. Still, neither is letting the pressure of the game become too much for them.
“Last year, I struggled with (leadership) and I think that’s when we needed it more,” said Peterson, who said he prides himself on his mobility, counting his feet among his biggest strengths. “This year, everyone’s older. I haven’t had to do anything crazy leadership-wise.”
“With every game, it brings a new experience,” Page said. “You can take something from every game. You’re always going to learn something based on what you see.”
Like Peterson, Page prides himself on his mobility, stating that he’s at his best when he’s outside the pocket.
The opposing coaches know this about each opposing quarterback and understand it will be a challenge to slow them down on Friday.
“He’s fast,” Grace said of Page. “He’s very fast. He’s been a Brookstone starter his whole career. That kid knows how to win. He’s going to put his team in a position to win.”
Dehem had similar praise for Peterson.
“He throws the ball well,” he said. “I think that’s why they sometimes open it up for him. It makes it difficult. You have to be ready for different looks. He can run it, and he can throw it.”
It’s clear neither team will be surprised about the challenges the opposition presents. In the end, as in other games, it will come down to execution.
“There’s nothing I have to do to motivate my kids this week,” Dehem said. “They’re ready to go.”
“These other teams have been proven winners, and we’re still trying to prove that we can win (in the region),” Grace said. “But, we can’t sit here and talk about it. We’ve got to go out and play a few and see what happens. We’re ready to go play.”
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