By Jon Saperstein Herald writer
Lakewood quarterback Justin Peterson has played in some big football games in his four years as a Cougar, including the school’s first-ever trip to the 2A state quarterfinals in 2011.
But Friday night was different.
“This is probably the most nervous that I’ve been before a game,” Peterson said. “Just the first game at the start of the season. They (the media) are talking about how they (the Patriots) are returning all these guys and we aren’t returning a lot of guys, so it was really nice to come out here and put it like this.”
The Cougars erased any doubts of their team’s potential with a 35-7 win over SPSL 2A favorite Washington
Peterson looked anything but nervous coming out firing, completing his first five passes for 74 yards. He threw for one score and rushed for two others, but ended up just 7-for-13 for 102 yards. He caught an eight-yard pass and had an interception in the defensive backfield.
“I actually didn’t do very well,” Peterson said, deflecting credit to his teammates. “Our team played well as a whole team. There’s a lot more reads that I can make better. Balls that I can throw better. Our receivers made a lot of good grabs and our running back Donovan did really well.”
The senior captain wasn’t impressed but his coach certainly was.
“Justin has really put in work in the offseason,” coach Dan Teeter said. “We’ve been excited to see him. We didn’t really throw the ball a lot tonight, but he has really improved his understanding of defenses.
“Last year he knew where our offensive guys were but now he sees the whole field. He knows how to read the whole defense and he’s throwing the ball with a lot more velocity.”
He guided the team to zero turnovers and his biggest miscue came after his interception when he fumbled during the return, but after a scramble recovered his own fumble.
Most importantly Peterson and the Cougars had a great time.
“It’s really fun, especially at Lakewood,” Peterson said. “There’s no better place to be.”
Lakewood is where the Cougars return next week to face Meridian Friday night.
“I’m proud of Justin,” Teeter said. “He’s going to be fun to watch all year.”
How far the Cougars go, will depend largely on Peterson’s arm and legs, but more significantly it will depend on the defense, which stood out on and off Friday night especially early in the first and third quarters when the game was in doubt.
“They had a couple guys that are phenomenal offensive weapons in Ramsey Davis and Victor Gamboa,” Teeter said of the Washington running back and wide receiver. “I can’t say how proud I am of the defense and the plan that our defensive coordinator Mitch Robbins put together and with his whole defensive staff. And the kids executed the plan. To keep those offensive weapons to seven points is what I’m most proud of.”
Under a full moon, in the shadow of Mt. Rainier, Lakewood gave the fans that made the trek from Arlington proud.
“It was a great start to the season,” Peterson said.