Two of the state’s most notable high school quarterbacks toil about seven miles apart.
The four-star recruits nearly played on the same team.
Brownsburg sophomore quarterback Hunter Johnson’s family moved from Avon to Brownsburg prior to his freshman season. Brandon Peters is Avon’s junior quarterback.
Peters and Johnson met in elementary school, then became teammates on the Avon Junior Orioles, a traveling team for fifth- and sixth-graders.
Now they are friendly rivals in the Hoosier Crossroads Conference.
“It’s good competition for both of us. When we play each other it’s going to be fun,” said Peters, whose Orioles (1-0) will play at Brownsburg (0-1) on Sept. 12.
The two made a splash in the off-season.
Johnson’s performances in camps attracted offers from Tennessee, Kentucky and Purdue. He called the attention surprising.
“I knew it was going to happen eventually,” he said. “But I didn’t expect it to happen this soon. I just have to keep a steady head about myself. I don’t need to worry about that (college) right now.”
The 6-5, 195-pound Peters, ranked No. 3 in the Class of 2016 in the state by 247Sports.com, picked up offers from Virginia Tech and Iowa, with Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky showing interest.
While both quarterbacks started last year, they had decidedly different results.
Johnson, whose older brother Cole was a quarterback and defensive back at Avon and is now a redshirt freshman receiver at Northwestern, struggled as a freshman in Class 6A competition.
Brownsburg coach Brett Comer wanted to break Johnson in slowly with a few series per game last season. But that changed when senior Jacob Lambert suffered his fourth concussion, ending his career, during the opener against Hamilton Southeastern.
“When you get thrown in the mix in the HCC, that’s not an easy place to be,” Comer said.
The 6-2 ½, 185-pound Johnson completed a mere 32.7 percent of his passes (34-of-104) with four interceptions and three touchdowns.
Comer said the team has changed from a flex bone offense to the pistol formation to take advantage of Johnson’s pro-style skills.
Johnson fared slightly better in the season opener, completing 9-of-23 passes for 124 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in a 59-19 loss at Pike.
“I’ve had time to be with my guys and create relationships,” Johnson said. “I feel like I’ve gained my voice this summer. Last year I was just a freshman kid.
“I’m a lot hungrier coming off last year (3-7). We know we have some talent to win some games and I think we will.”
Comer said college coaches are impressed with Johnson’s potential and mechanics.
“He’s also a competitive kid,” Comer said. “He likes to be first in sprints and competitions we do.”
Peters completed nearly 60 percent of his passes last year for 1,405 yards and 13 touchdowns as the Orioles went 6-5.
“What sets Brandon (apart) after getting all the reps as a sophomore is his attention to detail is greater and his focus is stronger in preparing,” Avon coach Mark Bless said. “His mental development as well as physical development are very good. He spent some quality time in the weight room after basketball season ended. He was able to put on good size and strength. I think his arm strength is excellent.”
Peters helped lead a second-half comeback in a 38-31 victory over Lawrence Central in the season opener. He completed 13-of-19 passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns.
Peters clearly showed no ill effects from suffering from mononucleosis earlier in the summer.
“My footwork has gotten a lot faster and that’s going to help me,” Peters said. “I’ve improved my pre-snap reads. It’s going to help me have a good idea where I’m going with the ball before the play.”
Peters said he became more comfortable as last season progressed.
“I wasn’t as timid,” he said. “I was more calm and not doing stupid stuff.”
Bless wants Peters to be more vocal this season.
“It’s not really my personality,” Peters said. “I’m kind of a laid-back person. But I can do it.”
A standout basketball player who started on the Avon varsity as a freshman, Peters said there is no doubt where his future lies.
“My true love is football all the way,” he said.
Call Star reporter Mark Ambrogi at (317) 444-6047. Follow him on Twitter: @mark_ambrogi