KAMLOOPS — Considering the quarterbacking lineage which is so rooted in his family, the story of how Jesse Peters came to bark out the signals for the South Kamloops Titans senior varsity is thoroughly entertaining… and heartfelt.
“I didn’t know much about football and I had never played quarterback before, but my dad was a big quarterback from before,” Peters explained Tuesday over the phone during a class break at South Kam, where the Titans (1-3) are preparing for their game of the season this Friday (7 p.m.) against the host and No. 3-ranked Vernon Panthers (2-2).
Peters’ dad is Troy Peters, who during his senior year of high school at Abbotsford Secondary, helped guide the Panthers to that season’s 1993 provincial AAA semifinals before going on to a university career in the Canada West with the Alberta Golden Bears.
“I thought I would just try the position out because I had a pretty decent arm,” Jesse Peters added, “and ‘lo and behold… it worked out.”
It has, and to the tune of 797 yards (third-best in AA this season) and six touchdowns over the Titans’ first four games, a vast improvement from his Grade 9 JV debut at the position in 2019.
Last Friday, in a 38-6 win over the Salmon Arm Golds, Peters broke out with a 16-for-32 passing performance which netted 350 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for a touchdown.
For all of that, Peters has been selected Varsity Letters’ B.C. High School Football Player of the Week.
“He is still learning, but he is a tall, athletic kid with a very strong arm,” reports South Kamloops head coach Brad Yamaoka, the former B.C. high school MVP running back who led the Kamloops Red Devils to the 1990 AAA title before embarking on a record-setting career with the UBC Thunderbirds and a seven-year career in the CFL.
“He is working on a lot of things, and technically, this is just his second season playing quarterback.”
To steal baseball terminology, Peters’ is indeed a toolsy prospect because not only does he have a big arm, he brings stature to the pivot at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, likely making him the tallest quarterback the Titans have trotted out since 2007 when Kelly Olynyk was taking the snaps as a Grade 11.
And all that from a kid who by the time the 2021 B.C. high school football season ends will still be just 16 years old.
“In Grade 8, I was more of a practice-squad guy and I didn’t see the field a whole lot because I was more of a third-string receiver,” remembers Peters. “I was on special teams a bit, but I never thought my football was going anywhere. Then Brad kind of showed up (for the 2019 season) and that’s how it’s went.”
Yamaoka had been coaching his son Kai — a 6-foot-1, 195 pound linebacker, running back — in the community ranks, but moved over to the head coaching role at South Kamloops when Kai entered ninth grade in 2019, part of a promising group of current Grade 11s which include Jesse Peters and receiver/linebacker Grayson Peters (no relation). As well, the team is currently without another top Class of 2023 grad in receiver Deegan Falsetta who suffered a thumb injury recently against Rutland.
Top senior targets for Peters have included seniors Ashton Yamaoka (6-foot-3, 185-pounds) and Kurtis Pearson (5-foot-11, 160 pounds), the former the nephew of Brad Yamaoka, and the son of Corey Yamaoka, South Kam’s senior boys basketball coach. Last week against Salmon Arm, Ashton caught four passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns.
Just acclimating himself with the many disciplines required of a starting quarterback has given Peters not only a deep respect for its job description, but a love for the position that just a few short years ago he admits he never knew he had.
“My footwork, my discipline to be smart with the football, being able to make reads, and then being a leader,” he says when asked what he has put his head down to study and work at most since 2019.
“And now that I am getting older, Brad and I will work together on plays.”
Just how far down the high school championship road the Titans will advance over both the 2021 and ’22 seasons isn’t known.
Yet there is a connection, through his father’s high school past, which makes Jesse Peters’ ascension to the role of starting quarterback ever so fitting.
And with that, your author is happy to go back into the personal time machine for this paragraph I wrote from the B.C. championship quarterfinal round played some 28 years ago next month, in November of 1993, from the pages of The Province newspaper.
Ryan McWhinney, a flanker for the Abbotsford Panthers, pulled in an 81-yard scoring toss from quarterback Troy Peters on third-and-18 with 2:02 remaining to give his team a dramatic 29-27 win over Clearbrook rival W.J. Mouat Hawks in sudden-death quarterfinal high school football playoffs Friday at B.C. Place.
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