St. Cloud Tech senior running back Jacob Peterson says he’s a football guy now.
He said he’s putting the hockey career on hold, at least for the moment.
To people who know Peterson and his devotion to hockey, that last sentence caused the earth to shift on its axis.
“I just want to play football,” said Peterson, who opened the 2012 season Friday night at Alexandria. “If college football works out, I’ll just focus on football.”
The earth just shifted again.
Peterson, a Times’ all-area selection last fall, basically played football as a hobby in 2011. He was mainly a member of the Granite City Lumberjacks junior hockey team, working out with that club in the fall. Because he was dealing with a partial fracture in his back, he barely practiced with Tech’s football team.
Not so this year.
“My back’s doing good this year,” Peterson said, noting that he has taken a little time off from hockey and “focusing on football, I’m not having any problems …
“This year, I’m thinking about actually practicing,” he quipped.
After the season, Peterson is headed to Janesville, Wis., to play in the North American Hockey League, a Tier II junior program. Not every junior hockey team lets one of its players report late because of high school football.
“They’ve been really good about things,” Peterson said.
Don’t get him wrong. The 5-foot-10, 161-pound speedster (he runs a 4.3-second 40-yard dash) still loves hockey. It’s just that when talking to Tech’s football coaching staff last spring, it occurred to him he could have a college football career.
“In hockey, I could be playing juniors another three years before I’d play in college,” Peterson said. “I kind of want to start college right away.”
The opportunity’s there. Guys with 4.3 40s don’t grow on trees in these parts. He’s as fast as anybody in the area. College football recruiters are intrigued by numbers like that.
“As long as he shows up on Fridays, I don’t care how much he practices,” Tech senior captain Jacob Krippner said.
“We want him out here,” senior captain Julian Weitz-Elder added. “Petey keeps us up. We don’t want that (him not playing).”
So, he’ll play, be completely focused on football and hope he can be part of a team that should contend for the Central Lakes Conference and the Section 8-5A titles.
“We’ve just got to take care of business and play it one game at a time,” Peterson said.
That one game this week might be one of the biggest of the season.
The Tech Tigers play at 7 p.m. Friday at Brainerd. The Warriors are led by legendary head coach Ron Stolski, the winningest coach in state history.
Tech, Brainerd and Rocori tied for the CLC title last fall. Beating Brainerd would be a biggie for Tech, which doesn’t have to face the Warriors in sectional play. Brainerd plays in the new Class 6A this season.
Tech fans should hope that Peterson heading to Janesville happens well into the Jets’ season, like when football in Minnesota moves indoors into the Metrodome.