BROOKVILLE, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Noah Peterson couldn’t help but think he was playing the wrong sport.
Soccer no longer held his interest like it had before. His siblings all played, so Peterson played, too.
After his sophomore year at Brookville, Peterson contemplated a change. He’d swap the soccer pitch for the football field.
(Pictured above, Brookville senior Noah Peterson makes a leaping interception against Bellefonte/photo by Molly Zimmerman)
Still, he hesitated until finally deciding to put on the helmet and pads shortly before his junior year.
“I was not a big soccer guy anymore,” Peterson said. “I don’t want to say I fell out of love with it, but it got really advanced for me and I really wasn’t all that into it.”
Peterson, always blessed with natural athletic ability, had been lobbied by his classmates — notably Brayden Kunselman — to come on over to the football team.
When he did, his impact was immediate.
Coaches weren’t exactly sure where to put Peterson, especially on defense. They tried him at safety and then moved him to cornerback, where he found a home.
He had one interception in his first season, but erupted this past fall as a senior.
Peterson became a star, intercepting nine passes in 12 games for the Raiders.
His played earned him a spot on the Pennsylvania Football Writers Class 2A All-State Team, which was released on Thursday.
“I never regret making that decision,” Peterson said. “I guess my only regret is not playing football sooner. Coach (Scott) Park always says, ‘I wish we had you for more years.’ But I’m glad and happy with the time I had.”
Peterson certainly made the most of it.
The 6-foot, 170-pounder put his athletic ability to good use as a wide receiver and cornerback.
But what took his game to the next level was his attention to detail and his willingness to study film.
A lot of film.
“It might sound like a safety-ish thing to say, but I read the quarterback’s eyes,” Peterson said. “We played a lot of zone — Cover 3 stuff — so I got to read the quarterback. (Defensive coordinator Bill Morrison) was really big on film study. We’d watch a lot of it, and just knowing the route combinations that teams ran out of certain formations really helped me predict what they were going to do. That really helped me be able to anticipate the play.”
Brookville’s secondary was one of the best in District 9.
Kunselman also had a big season with seven interceptions at safety. He set the school record for career INTs.
Peterson played well on defense this year despite making a radical position change on the offensive side of the ball early in the season.
The Raiders had a rash of injuries at the quarterback position.
First, starter Charlie Krug went down in Week 1. Then backup Easton Belfiore suffered a season-ending injury.
Peterson eventually was shifted from wide receiver to quarterback.
The first few weeks, he threw the ball sparingly as Brookville completed revamped its offense after a 1-4 start. As he became more comfortable in the passing game, Peterson flourished.
He helped the Raiders rebound from that poor first half of the season with a very strong second half that featured wins in four out of the next five games to make the playoffs. Brookville beat Karns City to earn a trip to the D9 Class 2A title game, where it fell to Central Clarion.
Peterson finished the season 79 of 113 for 818 yards and nine touchdowns to just five interceptions. He also rushed for 207 yards.
“There were like four different quarterbacks ahead of me,” Peterson said. “Then, I was the guy. I was the next guy up and I just was ready for the challenge. All my teammates encouraged me and believed in me. All my coaches, too. It was great.”
With the success Peterson has had on defense, he is open to maybe playing football in college.
That was unthinkable to him just two years ago.
“The coaches have told me a lot about playing college football,” Peterson said. “I just have to see.”
Going from not playing football to an all-state player in two years is an honor, Peterson said.
“It was very surprising,” he said. “My mom was super exciting. I was definitely exciting.”
OTHER D9 PLAYERS MAKE ALL-STATE TEAMS
Peterson wasn’t the only D9 player to find his name on the prestigious all-state list.
Curwensville quarterback Dan McGarry, made the Class A team for the second consecutive season.
McGarry threw for 2,067 yards and 21 touchdowns and also rushed for 1,042 yards and 13 scores for the Golden Tide.
In Class 3A, Clearfield’s Isaac Samsel made the team as a defensive lineman.
Despite his size — Samsel is listed at 5-8, 215 pounds — the senior wrecked opposing offenses up front with 88 tackles and 23.5 for a loss. He also had four quarterback sacks for the Bison, the D9 Class 3A champions.