High School Football

Squalicum senior not done wearing blue lightning bolts on helmet

Squalicum’s Ben Peterson returns a kickoff for a touchdown against Marysville-Pilchuck Sept. 16 at Civic Stadium in Bellingham. Peterson announced Sunday that he will accept an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy to play football.
Squalicum’s Ben Peterson returns a kickoff for a touchdown against Marysville-Pilchuck Sept. 16 at Civic Stadium in Bellingham. Peterson announced Sunday that he will accept an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy to play football. eabell@bhamherald.com

Over the past seven months, Squalicum High School senior Ben Peterson has received offers to play football from all three major military service academies. He also received offers from Brown and Columbia of the Ivy League and San Diego, according to his Twitter posts.

Evidently, Peterson grew accustomed to a blue lightning bolt on his Storm helmet the past few years, as he announced Sunday he will accept an appointment to the Air Force Academy in Colorado beginning next fall.

“When I was weighing all my options, I wanted to get the most out of wherever I was going in terms of lifestyle, my education and football,” Peterson said. “Air Force was the place that gave me all three of those. The sort of lifestyle they have there is second to none.”

Peterson said he’s eager to explore the Colorado mountains in his free time from what figures to be a busy academic and athletic schedule required of all student-athletes at service academies. Though he visited several schools on the East Coast, he said he didn’t find that same level of lifestyle.

Plus, Peterson said he welcomes a commitment to something “for the next 40 years, not necessarily just the next four.”

“I know it’s not going to be an easy place to go,” Peterson said. “There’s going to be a lot of hard work, but I know it’s the right choice for me.”

Although his grandfather served in the Navy, Peterson said he did not have a strong family presence steering him toward military service. He just knew it was the right environment for him.

“The difference between the Air Force Academy and some other schools is you get guys that are focused on football and school and other things, but still some guys go out and party,” Peterson said. “At the academy, everyone has similar goals. They’re not going out and partying, because they’ve got school, and they’ve got football and they got other commitments. There’s a common mindset there, so I won’t be all alone.”

Peterson said he likely will major in engineering, probably mechanical or electrical, and he’s considering pilot school so he can fly during his military commitment after he completes the academy.

On the field, the versatile Peterson, who is playing basketball for Squalicum this winter and has been a soccer standout during the spring, should fit in nicely with Air Force’s triple-option or flexbone offensive formation.

As a senior, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Peterson rushed for 568 yards and 12 touchdowns on 71 carries (8.0 yards per attempt) and caught 25 passes for 436 yards and six touchdowns, helping the Storm win the Wesco North Division title and reach the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs. The first-team All-Wesco North selection at wide receiver, defensive back and return specialist, who was selected the 2A/3A Northwest Conference MVP as a junior, also had six return touchdowns on special teams and defense and kicked 38 extra points and two field goals.

“They’re talking about playing me at wingback,” Peterson said. “When we’re in spread, they’ll be able to throw it to me out of the slot, and when we’re running, I’ll be one of the pitch men. It’s similar to what we did at Squalicum. I’ll get to run some pitches and sweeps, block and catch passes. I don’t want to go do just one thing; I want to be as diverse as possible.”

Peterson said he also discussed kicking with the coaching staff, led by Troy Calhoun since 2007. Though he won’t be the primary kicker, Peterson said he was told if his leg proves worthy, the Falcons could look to him as a backup.

“The biggest thing to me is I wouldn’t be here with my parents, family and coaches and the Lord,” Peterson said. “I believe God has given me potential, and I wouldn’t be in this position if I hadn’t been given that opportunity.”

Whatcom County Class of 2017 signings

Athlete

School

Sport

College

Emily Holt

Lynden

Soccer

Central Washington

Rowan King

Squalicum

Swimming

Pacific

Elisa Kooiman

Lynden

Basketball

Northwest Nazarene

Damek Mitchell

Squalicum

Basketball

Lewis-Clark State

Ben Peterson

Squalicum

Football

Air Force

Whitney Walker

Ferndale

Softball

Texas A&M-Kingsville

Ruby Watson

Sehome

Cross country/track

Rice

Drew Westford

Ferndale

Softball

Fairfield

Sydney Wong

Squalicum

Swimming

San Diego

NOTE: To report Whatcom County student-athletes who have or will sign a national letter or intent to continue their athletic careers next year, call 360-715-2286 or email sports@bhamherald.com.

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