Where there’s a ‘Will’…
Senior running back Will Peterson expected to lead Bobcats’ football team
Usually at the end of an interview, I like to ask, "Do you have anything you'd like to add?" Most athletes do not have anything else to say. But Bobcat senior running back Will Peterson had one thing he wanted to plug.
"I think that our line is going to be really pretty good," Peterson said.
And that's Will Peterson. He is not a "me-first" kind of guy.
"He's the hardest working kid especially in stuff that's not fun," coach Steve Hopkins said of Peterson. "He puts away equipment. He cleans up the locker room. He does everything that a leader should do and in all honesty his character is his greatest strength."
Peterson, who ran for more than 900 yards last season as the Bobcat's running back, returns this season as the go-to-guy. Peterson has a powerful running style in which he likes to run through the defense instead of running around the defense.
"I'm powerful. I'm more of a power back," Peterson said. "To quote something coach said last year, I might not beat you from here to the corner but I can drag you from here to the corner."
As Peterson admits, his speed is not his greatest asset, something Hopkins likes to poke fun at.
"I tease him all the time about his lack of speed but no one will ever question his toughness," Hopkins said. "He will run over, through, carry ya. He will get the ball advanced on every play and if the play should get three yards, he'll get four."
Peterson has worked this summer to get faster. He rode his bike to the high school everyday this summer to go running, lift weights and run stairs.
The senior running back excels in the weight room, which has helped develop his power running game. Peterson competes in power lifting, a competition that judges ones strength in the bench press, squat and hang clean. Last year, he placed second in the state competition in his weight class.
With last year's leading rusher, graduating quarterback Michael Armstrong gone, Peterson will see a majority of the carries this season. But Peterson is not the type to care about those things.
"He'll do whatever it takes for us to win. He doesn't really care if he rushes for more yards or catches more passes," Hopkins said. "I know that he probably has some personal goals but they all are secondary to our team success."
Peterson does have some personal goals. He wants to run for 1,000 yards. But ask Peterson about his goals and his expectations for the team and that is when he starts to get riled up.
"I'm thinking that we can take them all," Peterson said. "Looking at everybody we play, I'm not thinking anybody can take us down, at least not in the regular season."
If the Bobcats are able to go undefeated and go deep in State like Peterson would like to see, he will be a main reason why. Not only is he a key to their offensive success but he is also going to be the main disrupter on defense.
Peterson, whose main position on defense is middle linebacker, is the quarterback of the defense, the player in charge of calling the defensive plays and fronts. Since Hopkins feels so comfortable with Peterson's knowledge of the game and the team's schemes, he has him playing all over the field on defense.
"Sometimes, he'll be the traditional stand up middle linebacker," Hopkins said. "Sometimes he'll be playing in a gap with a hand on the ground. Sometimes he'll be a blitzer off the edge. Sometimes he'll be an outside linebacker that will drop into the flat.
"He's one of those kids that wherever we put him, we know he'll execute his responsibility perfectly because he'll learn it and do it as hard as he can every down."
Peterson has plenty to offer the Bobcats on both sides of the ball, but as Hopkins says, Peterson's greatest strength is his character.
"He is a great kid," Hopkins said. "If my son becomes that kind of a character kid, I'll feel real good."
Sophomore left tackle Swede Johnson can attest to that. Johnson says that he eats lunch everyday with Peterson. Johnson says Peterson is different than the other upperclassmen.
"Some of the other guys don't hang around with us," Johnson said. "At practice they'll talk to us a little bit but he talks to us and keeps us on the same page as everybody else."
Peterson likes to talk to people. He does not care who it is. He has taken classes in school to help him communicate with others and help his leadership skills. These classes include choir, forensics, debate and leadership.
These are not the typical "jock" classes. Of course, Peterson is not the typical jock. But do not take him for some kind of sissy boy.
"I love the hitting," Peterson says of his favorite thing about football.
He will be doing plenty of just that this fall on the field. And with his leadership skills and bone crushing hits, Peterson may follow his offensive line all the way to state.