It had been 20 years since Beresford High School hosted a state playoff game. The 2018 season was a breakout one for a Watchdogs program that had not reached the Class 11B state playoffs since 2015 as they finished the regular season 6-2 while led by Iowa State defensive end commit Blake Peterson.
Despite holding a 21-12 halftime lead over defending state champion Sioux Falls Christian on Thursday night, Beresford’s season — and Peterson’s high school career — came to an end at the hands of a 28-21 loss.
Regardless, it was a successful season for a program looking to work its way back into the spotlight of South Dakota high school football.
“I feel like I’ve played pretty well throughout my senior year,” Peterson, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound four-star prospect, told Cyclone Fanatic on Thursday. “I feel like I’ve helped a lot of the guys on this team. Especially as a team, we’re doing so much better than we have the last few years.”
Peterson, who committed to the Cyclones in March over an offer from Minnesota, finished his senior regular season with 47.5 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, four sacks, one forced fumble and a pass breakup. Regarded as the top prep in the state of South Dakota, Peterson is one of the crown jewels of what currently rates as one of the best recruiting classes in the history of Iowa State football.
He has made multiple trips to Ames over the past two seasons, including last year’s win over No. 4 TCU and the non-season-opener against South Dakota State, but it was the trip this past weekend that has impressed him the most.
“That was an amazing experience,” Peterson said. “I’ve never been in a stadium quite like that. I was at the TCU game last year and this last time was an even better atmosphere than that. That was really special.”
Playing at Iowa State will give Peterson an opportunity to team up with fellow South Dakota native and Iowa State commit Grant Treiber, who happens to be his fourth-cousin. Clearly, along with the family connection and being the top-two prospects in South Dakota, those two knew each other well even before it became clear they would team up in Ames.
Peterson, who said he has watched all of Iowa State’s games this season on TV if he isn’t in the stadium, also noted he has built a friendship with West Des Moines, Valley offensive tackle Jake Remsburg leading up to both of them joining the Cyclones’ program next summer. He also said he has already built a bit of a rapport with current Iowa State defensive end Enyi Uwazurike.
“I’m starting to get to know some of the guys. It’s pretty cool just getting to know them and feel a little more a part of things too,” Peterson said. “Just at the beginning, (the Cyclones) started a little bit slow. I feel that SDSU game would have helped the team a lot just getting a game under their belt. They’ve really figured things out though and it’s looking really good right now.”
Iowa State’s process of improvement has been due in large part to the continued success of Jon Heacock‘s defense, which has further solidified itself as one of the best units in the Big 12. The stat that gets Peterson most excited is the Cyclones’ ability to force a school-record seven sacks in back-to-back weeks.
“It definitely gets me really excited to get in with that group,” Peterson said. “Seven sacks two weeks in a row, that’s huge for a defense. That’s really going to help you win games if you’re getting pressure on the quarterback constantly like that.”
With a historic senior season complete, Peterson can now focus on making his final preparations for the college level and joining Iowa State next summer.
“The biggest thing for me that I’ll be working on a lot is really working on my run game stuff for the game,” Peterson said. “Big 12 tackles are not like South Dakota tackles when they’re down blocking on you. That’s one thing I’ll be working on. Then splitting double-teams too and just getting better at that.”