A Quiet Leader Enters the “Big House”
Writer / Joshua Deisler
Brandon Peters never saw it coming. He was standing behind the bleachers on the night of Homecoming. Flying fast, a quarter had barreled through the fall night, ripping a hole in his eye. In seconds, Brandon was lying in the grass, wondering if he would ever play quarterback again and wondering if he would ever see again.
“All of a sudden, I turned around, and just got smoked. My eye felt like it was in the back of my head,” recalls Brandon, a seventh grader at the time.
But what could have been the end of a promising career was just the beginning. After two surgeries to repair his damaged eye, Brandon was already looking forward to next season. “I wasn’t going to let my vision or anything like that affect me,” says Brandon.
“He’s a very lucky kid,” says father Dave. “He almost lost his eye.”
Brandon’s love of sports is engrained in his family tradition. His first football memories are of playing flag football with his father alongside him as coach. Dave recalls Brandon’s first touchdown as the moment Brandon fell in love with the game. “From early on, football was always in his heart,” says Dave.
Dave placed Brandon at the center; he loved getting his hands on the football. “He was just a kid you could put anywhere on the field,” says Dave, recalling Brandon’s success in tackle football. “He was a great defender, our best tackler and our hardest hitter.”
He never realized his son would be such as star, not until a call from Brandon’s Junior Orioles coach: he wanted to try Brandon as quarterback. “That’s when we found out he had the arm he had,” recalls Dave.
Brandon soon understood he had the instinct of a quarterback. He remembers a friend running up to him after practice, confused at how Brandon always accomplished a perfect spiral throw. To Brandon, it was pure instinct. “That just doesn’t come natural to some people,’ says Brandon.
Soon, Brandon started to love football. “I don’t know why. It’s not really just a one-person sport; you need everybody,” he says. As quarterback, he loved the challenge of leading the team.
“The coaches put a lot of weight on my shoulders. Sometimes they let me call my own plays.” The best piece of advice they gave him: if you make a mistake, come back better in the next play.
Brandon found himself recalling his coaches’ advice in a game against Cathedral. He had just fumbled the ball, and it seemed as if Cathedral may pull of a win. “I didn’t let that mistake get to me. I led my team back onto the field.”
Throughout high school, Brandon played sports all year, including basketball. His favorite part of basketball was dunking.
But Brandon’s starring sport was football. Brandon was the starting quarterback for the Avon Orioles his sophomore, junior and senior years, leading his team to a 24-10 record and to the sectional and regional championships.
As his team won victories, Brandon grew as a leader. “Our team was really close,” he says. “The easiest way to lead is getting to know people, seeing how they react and communicating with them in the right way.” He recalls weekly pizza nights with teammates as they studied playbooks and prepared for the next game.
Brandon led the team to much more than sectional and regional titles. He was also a model for sportsmanship and teamwork. “Brandon is a very quiet leader,” says Dave. “If you know anything about Brandon, he’s about the team.”
Brandon is quick to agree about the importance of teamwork and leadership. At a game against Zionsville, Brandon threw three interceptions in the first half. He remembers worrying about how his team was suffering. “The team needed me,” he says. “I got myself together.”
Indeed, Brandon led his team through times of victory as well as times of defeat. As the team played for the regional title against Cathedral, Brandon found himself trapped: he had been sacked several times. He rallied his team together to regroup. He remembers how everyone swarmed the field when the Orioles pulled off the win.
For Dave, his best moment was watching his son lead the Orioles to a win against Ben Davis in the sectional match. Ben Davis had set out to stop Brandon. In the first half, he was 3-17 on completions.
“He could have laid down and pouted, but he rose to the challenge in the second half,” says Dave. “As far as leadership and as a team, to me it was his greatest accomplishment.”
But Brandon learned some of his greatest lessons with a loss. He remembers losing against Westfield his sophomore year. It was the last drive of the game. Brandon threw an interception, and the game was over. He learned to keep building his confidence, even after a defeat.
Through wins, losses and injuries, Brandon has faced many challenges. Physically, it’s communication and accuracy. Mentally, it’s the challenge of trying to coordinate the big picture of the games.
Brandon is so cool on the field that his performance seems effortless. “When he was younger, I used to get on him because I didn’t think he was trying,” recalls Dave. “He was; he just made it look so easy and smooth. It just flows.”
Avon Coach Mark Bless agrees: “Brandon is very driven to succeed. He is pretty laid back off of the field, but he turns into a football superman on the field.” Coach Bless is quick to name Brandon’s accomplishments: all-state teams, U.S. Army All-American All Star Game and Indiana’s Mr. Football.
And Brandon is quick to thank Coach Bless who taught him to be a leader on and off the field. “He was like my dad,” he says.
Like many of his peers and coaches, Bless notes that Brandon credits many of his accomplishments to his fellow players. “He will fight tooth and nail for his teammates,” says Coach Bless.
Brandon is all about his teammates. When he realized he had received the Mr. Football Award, he was worried more about his team. “I never wanted to be a superstar. I just wanted to be a great teammate,” he says. “I was definitely excited, but at the same time, I was just proud of my team; without them, I wouldn’t be there.”
Dave credits Brandon’s success not just to the team but also the entire program. “Those awards don’t represent my kids; they represent the Avon community.”
Brandon left Avon High School with a 3.5 GPA, moving to Ann Arbor to begin school at the University of Michigan. His father notes that Brandon had over 20 offers from different universities but ultimately embraced the Wolverine football tradition.
“I just really liked the coaches and the amount of professional experience they had,” says Brandon. While undeclared, Brandon hopes to pursue a career in athletics, perhaps sports management. He looks forward to more improvement under coach Jim Harbaugh.
“Brandon’s challenge was to come out of his shell and be more verbal,” says Dave who notes how much Brandon has grown over the summer. “That’s the one thing they’re working with him on at Michigan.”
Brandon is committed to improving, leading his team and finding joy in the intricate teamwork of the game and in the simple act of throwing a completion. In times of stress, Brandon thinks about how far football has taken him. He thinks about his family. He thinks about his coaches. And he thinks about his teammates who are watching their quiet leader.
“Take full advantage and do what you love,” he says. And that’s a piece of advice everyone should take to heart.