Prep football: Highland's Peterson grows into QB position
Austin Peterson is nearing 1,000 yards passing, yet he doesn't own the strongest arm.
The Highland quarterback is not the fastest runner, but has used his agility, quickness and toughness to average about 50 yards rushing per game.
In some ways, the Highland High quarterback is a throwback to the days before elaborate offenses.
Peterson also brings a sense of joy and fun to his teammates.
"He loves playing the game," Highland coach Brody Benson said. "He passes that on to everyone around him. No one can say he isn't having fun or enjoying playing.
"When we're at practice, and maybe starting to dip a little bit, Pete can bring us back up."
Yet after the 34-13 loss to East High on a cold, rainy Friday night, there remain lessons to learn.
It was a game that negated Peterson's strengths as the Rams were rocked early.
"We're going to watch film and learn from our mistakes," a crestfallen Peterson said afterward, rain dripping from his helmet as Highland boosters struggled through the school song. "We're just going to learn and move on."
Despite the loss, Highland's goal remains the same. It has not changed from the start of fall camp.
"This year, our expectation was to win every game," Peterson said. "We don't come out to lose. We want to compete and we want to win."
To be the best of the best sometimes takes a smack to the face. Benson has no doubts that Peterson will shake off the East defeat.
To his credit, Peterson didn't give up, despite throwing two interceptions and trailing by four touchdowns. In fact, Highland played East even in the second half of its 4A battle.
"I think Pete was definitely too excited at times tonight and too low at times," Benson said. "I think that's him growing up as a quarterback and as a leader. You got to learn to ride that fine line never too high or too low.
"He was pressing out there, but there were a lot of us, too."
Peterson's mood was a far cry from the enjoyment he experienced at the start of the season. His first start as Highland's quarterback resulted in a 21-10 defeat of West.
Highland's previous losses this season have been to Herriman, Lone Peak and Bountiful in overtime.
Peterson's reaction to each loss has been the same.
"We're going to work our butt off," he said. "We're going to work hard and we're going to get better."
His goals are clear.
"We just want to be the meanest, nastiest, toughest team in the state," he said.