By being so talented at so many skill positions, Justin Peterson never did have a primary position in Lakewood’s offense last season. He nearly pulled off a triple double, running for 10 touchdowns, catching 12 scoring passes and throwing for seven.
But Central Washington University signed Peterson for a specific position and it was obvious Saturday afternoon at the 19th annual Earl Barden Classic all-star football game at East Valley.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior concentrated on being a wide receiver — exactly what the Wildcats are interested in — and he hauled in seven passes for 107 yards and a touchdown, earned his team’s offensive MVP award and helped the West roll to a 30-6 victory over the East at Earl Barden Field.
The West’s victory was its third straight in the series, which dates back to 1995, and Peterson’s accolades marked the second year in a row that a Central recruit led the win with offensive MVP honors. Interlake’s Jordan Todd scored three touchdowns in the West’s overtime triumph last summer.
“This was a great experience, especially with my coach (Dan Tetter) here on the staff,” Peterson said. “I’ve had some older teammates play in this game and they always said, ‘If you get the chance you have to do it — don’t pass it up.’ It wasn’t just the game, it was really cool the whole week.”
Peterson, a state triple jump champion, caught five passes in the second quarter and showed immediate chemistry with Lynden quarterback Josh Kraght. The two hooked up on gains of 40, 23 and 10 yards, the last going for a touchdown that put the West up 27-6 with 23 seconds left in the first half.
“We had four two-a-days here this week so we worked a lot together,” Peterson said of Kraght, the 2A state player of the year who threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns. They worked together so well they pulled off a hook-and-ladder play in the final period that led to a field goal and the only points of the second half.
With five NCAA Division I signees on its roster, the West rolled up 432 total yards — 184 on the ground and 248 in the air — and scored all four of its touchdowns during its seven possessions in the first half. And while the defense permitted 361 yards passing, the West forced six turnovers and held the East’s running backs to 21 yards. The main antagonist in that effort was Tumwater’s 6-5, 260-pound Jaimie Bryant, a University of Washington recruit who was voted the West’s defensive MVP.
Before Kraght started airing it out, the West did its damage on the turf, rushing for 140 yards in the first quarter with touchdowns by Capital’s Kai Van Sickle and Hoquiam’s Nolan Hoiness.
The East had its chances even without much of a running game. Royal quarterback Alex Myrick, the 1A state player of the year, combined with Tyler Stavnes of Spokane’s West Valley for 27 completions and 331 yards. Stavnes connected with Othello’s Juston Lind on a 67-yard scoring play that drew the East within 14-6 early in the second period.
Lind had four catches for 112 yards in the first half but left the game with a separated shoulder. Juston’s older brother, Devon, who scored two touchdowns in the East’s victory in 2010, accepted the East offensive MVP award while Juston was being treated at a local hospital. Royal’s Brady Dixon was the East’s defensive MVP.
White Swan’s Alex Sampson made his presence felt on defense, breaking up a pass play in the first quarter with a perfectly timed hit and recovering a fumble in the third period. He was also deep on all kickoffs and punts but only got his hands on two because of Derrick Holt’s booming kicks for the West.
“The hit was fun because I was trying to bait the quarterback into throwing it my way,” said Sampson, who easily had the largest family turnout. “I played off the receiver just enough to know I could still get there. I was hoping for a few more chances on runbacks, but that guy sure had a boot. It was awesome playing with all these guys, a once in a lifetime experience.”
West 14 13 0 3 — 30
East 0 6 0 0 — 6
West — Kai Van Sickle 56 run (Derrick Holt kick)
West — Nolan Hoiness 3 run (Holt kick)
East — Juston Lind 67 pass from Tyler Stavnes (kick failed)
West — Caleb Taylor 40 pass from Josh Kraght (kick blocked)
West — Justin Peterson 10 pass from Kraght (Holt kick)
West — FG Holt 22
RUSHING — West, Van Sickle 8-68, Andrew Brown 5-46, Hoiness 5-40, Brandon Pritchett 6-17, Dahlton Zavala 5-17, Taylor Martindale 2-minus-1, Lars Blix 1-minus-1, Kraght 1-minus-2. East, Derek Smith 3-28, Alex Myrick 10-8, Kody Bartlett 1-7, Fabian Alvarez 2-4, Stavnes 4-minus-5, Lind 2-minus-11, Team 1-minus-10.
PASSING — West, Kraght 13-21-0-225, Blix 2-3-0-13, Martindale 2-3-0-1-. East, Myrick 18-34-2-183, Stavnes 9-13-1-148, D. Smith 2-3-1-30.
RECEIVING — West, Peterson 7-107, Taylor 4-80, Zach Vis 2-19, Van Sickle 1-21, Holt 1-15, Hoiness 1-4, Brown 1-2. East, D. Smith 6-72, Bartlett 6-35, Lind 4-112, Alvarez 4-38, Caleb Wiebe 3-13, Koleman Johns 2-46, Dalton Estes 2-29, Austin Johnson 1-12, Dalton Hansen 1-4.