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Peila makes a big impact

CENTRAL POINT — Sure, Bryce Peila leads Crater with 60 tackles and seven interceptions.

Sure, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior also doubles as the Comets' leading receiver and one of many threats on the ground.

But there's another category out there, dubbed "other involvements" by the Crater staff, where Peila has truly made his mark. Those dozen incidents involve any number of scenarios, but the conclusion typically involves the hard-hitting Peila making a big impact on an opposing player.

"He's very physical," says Crater coach John Beck of the free safety. "His highlight film this year will be something else."

Some of Peila's efforts have already turned heads outside the Crater locker room. Beck says one play in particular against Mazama was picked out by Klamath Union coach Wayne Amos as one to watch leading up to the Crater-KU tilt.

"Wayne said he made it a point to show his kids the film showing Peila cracking a kid on the line of scrimmage, then getting up and going downfield to knock out a defensive back and finally taking out another defensive back on the play," says Beck. "He knocked out three kids on one play from one end of the field to the other, it was unbelievable. I've never seen that on the high school level before, but that's the kind of player he is."

Although that type of play might be something special, it's just the norm for Peila, who recently was honored as co-defensive player of the year in the Southern Sky Conference.

"I really just love to compete," he says. "I don't care what it takes, I just love the game and love to compete."

Peila says he's not really sure why, but he's always had a knack for getting to the ball. Beyond his tackles and interceptions, he also has 10 pass breakups and has forced two fumbles and recovered three others.

He's one of a number of athletes on the defensive side of the football that have worked together to become the top-rated defense in the Southern Sky Conference, allowing an average of about 254 yards per game.

But Peila says his hard-hitting ways were adopted from the play of his predecessor, Charlie Reina, and not the result of a lifelong ornery nature.

"I don't think I've always been a hard-hitter," says Peila, 17. "I just think it's been that way the past couple years. Mostly it came from Charlie, facing up against him every day. He just really made me more of a physical person, and I really felt there was a need to be more physical this year with him not here."

That physicality has also translated well to his offensive duties. Peila has shown good hands and speed while hauling in a team-high 32 receptions for 494 yards and six touchdowns, but his toughness has recently led to an expanded role in the offense with seven carries for 63 yards and a score.

"We wanted to get him and Zach (Boskovich) more involved in the offense so we've gone to more fly sweeps and screens and put them in motion more," says Beck. "We're making it harder for either of those guys to be doubled on the perimeter, and it's just another way of getting them another touch (of the football)."

All that is music to the ears of Peila, who's more than willing to sell out for his team.

"Anything they want, I'm up for," he says without hesitation.

Beck says it's that attitude, combined with Peila's considerable athletic prowess, that has made him such a valuable leader for the Comets thus far.

"He's the best combination receiver/defensive back that we've ever coached as a staff," says the Crater coach. "His instincts and his ability to hit and cover and make big plays on both sides of the ball and on special teams are just unbelievable. But what's really exciting is he's really matured and turned into a really good leader for this football team. He really wants to win, is motivational in a good way and just keeps things in the right perspective."

And that may be Peila's biggest impact of all.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com

Bryce Peila leads the Crater’s defense in tackles and is one of the top playmakers on offense. - Jamie Lusch