Athlete of the Week: Zane Peterson of Sebring McKinley – The-review

SEBRING Using his feet along with his head, Sebring McKinley senior Zane Peterson has developed into a true dual-threat quarterback.

After missing more than half of his junior season with an injury, Peterson showed resiliency through offseason preparation and intense commitment to help a struggling football program begin to turn the corner and establish a winning culture.

Through the first five Sebring games this season, Peterson's offensive play helped the Trojans go 2-3 and lay a positive foundation for the future. He has been accurate throwing the football, completing 50 of 83 attempts (60 percent) for 737 yards, six touchdowns, a pair of two-point conversions and only two interceptions. Peterson also has rushed for 289 yards on 61 tries (4.7 avg.), with five touchdowns and three two-point conversions.

For his play and positive impact on the team, Peterson was selected The Review Athlete of the Week.

"It's been a good year," Peterson said. "We have more numbers, because a lot of seniors who played when they were younger decided to come back out and play. Those guys have bonded well with the guys who returned and we've gotten better since our first game."

Peterson, who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 175 pounds, has been an impact player in each contest, both at quarterback and outside linebacker. The Trojans, who struggled to score in several games last season, are averaging 18.4 points this season and have yet to be blanked. Peterson's arm and legs helped propel the attack, but so have running backs Jake Hunter and Cody Horning, and wideouts Carson Rouse, Noah Fredrick and Isaiah Bivins.

"We have a lot of [offensive] weapons," Peterson said. "Jake can plow through the line, Cody is fast and can jump, Carson is [about] 6-5 and can go up and get the ball, Noah has good moves and Isaiah is so fast."

Sebring lost 29-12 to Lowellville in its last game, but the Trojans amassed 262 yards of total offense. Peterson was 15 of 21 passing for 163 yards, successfully distributing the football to Hunter, Horning, Fredrick and Rouse, and just missing Bivins on a fly pattern.

Although he was forced to scramble occasionally and he was sacked a couple of times, Peterson managed to have ample time most of the game to throw. He credited the offensive line of center Noah Dennis, tackles Matt Byrd and Donovan Seruch, and guards Austin Haas and Frank Lozoya for protecting him and also opening holes for Hunter, who rushed for 73 yards and scored twice.

"Our offensive line did a great job against Lowellville," Peterson said. "The coaches have moved guys around and they're getting comfortable with their positions and working together."

That is part of Petersons maturation process, assuming a leadership role.

"The coaches want me to lead and I feel the best way to do that is to offer words of encouragement," he said.

Peterson began playing football when he was in elementary school, taking part in the Sebring Little Trojans program. His coach when he played on the 5th-6th grade team and the 7th-8th grade team was Matt Seidel, now the high school coach.

Seidel inherited a program which went 0-20 the two previous years.

"We knew him, because we had played for him before," Peterson said. "We also knew he's a Sebring guy and is passionate about wanting to help make the program succeed. We also knew he had the type of personality to get [increased] numbers, because he has a job [salesman] where you know how to [reach] people."

While Peterson had three years of high school football playing experience, he was starting over this year after recovering from a torn tendon in his right ring finger which forced him to miss the final six games last year.

Diving into the offseason weight lifting program run by assistant coach Dalton Smith, Peterson got into better physical condition His teammates also bought into the program. Peterson noticed it after Sebrings second game, a 37-29 win over Southington Chalker.

"We watched Chalker play the night after our Leetonia [season-opening] game and we thought we could beat them because we were in better shape," Peterson said. "When we played them, we noticed they were getting tired, so our conditioning and lifting paid off."

Peterson has been receptive pupil, both in the football meeting room and in a high school classroom. He carries a 4.0 grade-point-average and aspires to attend college and study physical therapy. He also would relish getting a chance to play football at a higher level.

"My favorite subject is anatomy," Peterson said. "It's going to help me get ready for studying [physical therapy]. Id like to play more football. If I dont, I want to have a career that's involved with athletics."

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Athlete of the Week: Zane Peterson of Sebring McKinley - The-review

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