The man expected to lead the Tri-Cities Fever offense on the football field this season has always wanted to be a quarterback.
“I started out being a Joe Montana fan when I was little,” Kasey Peters said. “I remember when he got knocked out of the NFC championship against the New York Giants (in 1991).”
Peters grew up in Southern California and became a self-professed football junkie.
“Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a quarterback,” he said as his team prepares for its 2013 home opener, against the Nebraska Danger at 7:05 p.m. Friday at Toyota Center. “I love the competition. I love the camaraderie of being around a team.”
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The 25-year-old spent some time on the road becoming a quarterback: Santa Ana Junior College in California; Grand Valley State in Michigan; Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Mont.; and finally with the Fever, as a backup last season to all-star quarterback Houston Lillard, where in 17 games the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder threw just 11 passes.
Now, after Lillard asked for and received his release from the team last summer, the Fever has become Peters’ team.
He knows that winning is the norm in the Tri-Cities — especially with consecutive championship-game appearances.
“What Houston has done here the last two years is great, and our whole organization has been winning the last two years,” Peters said. “Our head coach (Adam Shackleford) has a great winning percentage. That’s a lot of expectations.”
His teammates, especially the veterans, know that.
“It’s hard because Houston set the bar so high,” Fever receiver Steven Whitehead said. “But Kasey has a lot of upside. His potential is through the roof.”
Peters knows there is pressure to succeed, and he said that’s fine.
“I expect myself to do well,” he said. “I put a huge amount of pressure on myself. To me, it’s a good thing. For one thing, it shows that I care. And two, it’s going to drive me. And I play better when I am a bit amped up.”
He was amped up a bit March 1, when he made his debut as a starter in the Fever’s season-opening 42-38 loss at Colorado. He was 23-for-43 for 209 yards and three touchdown passes. But he also had two passes intercepted.
“I liked what he did,” Shackleford said. “I like his accuracy. I like his strong arm. I think he’s pretty cerebral. He needs to see the field better. But I thought looking at my last five (starting) quarterbacks, he had one of the better first games. I liked the way he controlled the game, and I was impressed as anybody the way he threw the football.”
Lillard, who called Peters after the contest, agreed.
“I watched the second half of the game on the computer,” said Lillard, who now lives in Portland. “He didn’t make any bad decisions. I think he has a lot of talent, but you can only learn so much by watching before you have to do it.”
Peters is concerned only with one stat: wins.
“I did some stuff pretty well,” he said. “But obviously the bottom line is winning, and that’s what our fans have come to expect. I could have made some plays to help us win.”
The nice thing for him is that with so many veterans on this team — Ed Berry, Rudell Crim, Boris Lee, Shane McCord, Lionell Singleton, Ryan Tolar, Whitehead and Brandon Wilson — he can gradually work his way into a top leadership role.
“That makes things a lot easier on me,” he said. “We have a lot of experience. It’s nice to not have everything on my shoulders. That leadership is spread out.”
As long as the Fever keeps winning. That’s the only thing that’ll make Peters happy.
“The only thing that I’ll feel satisfied with is if we’re going to win a championship,” he said. “Nothing else will satisfy me. I came here to win.”