Peyton Armstrong is an imposing presence on the perimeter of the Bay Port offense.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder is a key reason the Pirates have been able to average 44.3 points per game and lead the Fox River Classic Conference in scoring at the midway point of the season.
But the senior receiver’s contributions go far beyond leading the 12-team league in every major statistical category for his position, where he has totaled 19 receptions for 283 yards and four touchdowns.
In fact, Armstrong might be at his best when the football isn’t coming his way.
“Peyton is a pretty physical kid,” Bay Port coach Gary Westerman said. “What you don’t see in the stat line is that he is a real good blocker. That’s what he’s done in the past because he was a wing in a Wing-T offense, so he’s certainly learned that over the years.”
While Westerman has made some changes to the offense in his first season, the emphasis on the running game has remained the same as it was under former coach Mike Williquette.
That suits Armstrong well because he still enjoys making lanes for runners even though he’s primarily lining up outside the hash marks now.
The place Armstrong doesn’t want to be is on the sideline, like he was during his junior year when he tore the medial collateral ligament in a knee halfway through the season. He then sustained the same injury in a basketball practice the day before the Pirates’ regional final loss to Sheboygan North in March.
“This summer that’s pretty much all I did is work hard and make sure my knee was 100 percent so I didn’t get it reinjured,” said Armstrong, who also plays baseball.
When it came time for football season to began, Armstrong was back to full strength and ready to get back to working on one of his strengths –blocking.
“I look forward to blocking,” he said. “Whatever the coaches need me to do to win, I’ll do it.
“You never know what’s going to happen running a route because you can always slip or something. But usually when I’m blocking I know I’m just going to hit someone.”
The ability of Armstrong and fellow senior Steve Minzlaff to screen off defenders down field as receivers has helped turn short gains into long ones, which has played a part in sophomore Alec Ingold scoring a league-high 11 touchdowns.
Armstrong said their ability to do so is a credit to assistant coach Chad VandenHoogen, who has the receivers go through a blocking drill at every practice.
“He has us working on stock blocking every day,” Armstrong said. “We have to block someone for 3 seconds without them getting to the ball carrier. We learn the technique and where to block with that.”
Regarding the other role his position entails, Armstrong knows that if defenses start slanting their coverage towards him, quarterback Colton Peterson will have no problems finding another target like the 6-foot-4 Minzlaff. Those types of options have helped Peterson throw for a league-high 575 yards during the Pirates’ 4-0 start.
“I like being next to Steven Minzlaff because he’s a great receiver, too,” Armstrong said. “Having both of us out there, I like it a lot better than being in tight.”
With Green Bay Southwest and Green Bay Preble also undefeated and tied with Bay Port atop the FRCC, Armstrong knows the final stretch this season will be tightly contested.
“A conference title would be ideal but we’re not looking over any team and are just going from game to game,” he said.