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California Area's Devan Peterman finds fall sports to his liking

| Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Standing behind his offensive line with his holder a yard away, California Area High School senior and kicking specialist Devan Peterman was unsure of what to expect on his first varsity extra point attempt against Fort Cherry on Sept. 6.

After his Trojans had been shut out by Monessen in the season opener a week earlier and his first game experience was on the special team's kickoff squad, Peterman readied his kicking position after California's first touchdown of the season.

“I was definitely nervous on that first extra point,” Peterman said, smiling. “I had only kicked extra points against my teammates in practice, and there was no real pressure. But against Fort Cherry I was not sure how fast they would be rushing to try to block the kick. They came at me pretty fast, but it was a good snap and hold and kicking was the easy part.”

With their arms pointing toward the darkened evening sky, referees signaled that Peterman's kick was good, and he was in the record book.

“Last year our kicker was on the soccer team and said it was fun kicking for the football team,” said Peterman, an all-section performer with the Trojans' soccer team as a junior. “With our kicker from last year having graduated and another kicker who became the wide receiver, I thought I would give (football) kicking a try. I kick the football and soccer ball with the same mechanics. There is no difference in the technique. Not having played football before, I was just unsure about what to do in all the situations, even on kickoffs; but I am getting used to it, and the transition has been pretty smooth. So far everything has worked out and I like being part of the program.”

Timewise, football and soccer present no problems, he noted, with football practice starting at 4 p.m. and soccer two hours later. But the hour prior to football practice presented another opportunity.

In the first season for California to offer cross-country, Peterman couldn't pass it up. So it's cross-country at 3, football at 4, and soccer at 6.

“Playing three varsity sports in the same season is very time-consuming,” he said. “When I get home I am pretty tired and sometimes I have little time for homework. I like being active and that's the main reason I decided to play three sports. I love running and wanted to condition myself more for soccer and track (next spring),” where he competes in the mile, two mile, and 3,200 meter relay events. In spite of the hectic schedule, Peterman noted he generally gets to his homework approximately at 8 p.m., but still maintains a 3.0 grade average.

“With sports and school, I don't really have much free time,” he chuckled, “especially on days when all three sports are playing or practicing. But I'm fine with it. My friends are involved in sports so there is some socialization, so it's all OK.”

After first-year coach Bo Teets was hired as the Trojans football coach, he recalled Peterman paying a visit and inquiring about possibly kicking;

“Cross-over kickers coming from soccer to football are fine,” Teets said, “and Devan has been a pleasant surprise. He comes to practice, works hard, works on his kicking and tries to get better every day. My brother A.J. is our kicking coach and works with him. Coming from soccer to football and especially since this is his first year in football, the transition appears to have been relatively easy.”

While Peterman is sure to always remember his first varsity PAT, scoring his first varsity soccer goal, a late-game-tying goal which his Trojans won in overtime, when he was sophomore, is another career highlight.

As a junior last year, Peterman recorded nine goals and was named his team's Offensive Player of the Year, in addition to earning all-section honors.

Quickness and dribbling skills are two of Peterman's strengths on the soccer pitch, said his father and soccer coach, Scott Peterman, who made the transition from father to coach for this interview.

“Devan can dribble through defenders, moves the ball around, and is a good ball striker,” Scott Peterman said, noting Devan plays striking center-mid, an offense-oriented role. “His speed has been outstanding this season and he pushes the ball up the field, but he also can track back for the ball. He has always been an instinctive, creative type player who sets up scoring opportunities for other players.”

Peterman was able to hone his skills while playing CUP soccer a year ago for Victory Express and Washington & Jefferson College coach Ian McDonald.

Les Harvath is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.