Even though it was only a Sunday morning practice for the Montana East-West Shrine Game, Danny Peoples wasn’t a fan of wearing a jersey with No. 77 on it.
“No pictures of me today,” Peoples said with a laugh between practice reps. “Wait until tomorrow when I get a new jersey.”
Danny Peoples, you see, was born a quarterback, and 77 is the number of a lineman.
“Ever since I can remember it’s what I did,” Peoples said of playing quarterback after a West team scrimmage Monday on Montana Tech’s Bob Green Field.
Saturday’s 69th Montana East-West Shrine Game in Great Falls will mark the last time he will likely play the position, however. Next month Peoples will report to camp with the Montana Grizzlies as a kicker.
“This will be my last game as a quarterback, so I’m going to make the most of it and have fun with it,” Peoples said Monday, while wearing a more quarterback-like number 12. “It’s what I did for the longest time.”
By the time Peoples, who wore No. 1 at BC, was born, his father was already an established head coach at Butte Central Catholic High School. Don Peoples Jr. was also a quarterback for the Maroons. He wore No. 10.
So, from the day he could first walk, Danny Peoples was all about football and all about being a quarterback.
“I would show up to their practice when I was anywhere over 3 years old and throw the ball around,” he said.
On Saturday, Peoples will switch off behind center with former Kalispell Glacier star Brady McChesney, who will walk on at Montana State and get a shot he can play quarterback.
Peoples will walk on at UM and will not get that chance.
“It will definitely be a lot different,” Peoples said. “At the Mon-Dak Game a few weeks ago I was just a kicker. It was weird getting used to hanging out on the sideline the whole game and not having as much to do with the outcome of the game.
“I like the opportunity I’ve been given in Missoula, and I’m excited for it.”
Back at quarterback, Peoples has looked sharp at quarterback through the first three days of the Shrine camp.
During Monday’s scrimmage threw a nice deep pass to Columbia Falls receiver Ty Morgan, who made an acrobatic catch. Another favorite target of Peoples is Butte High superstar Dalton Daum.
“I get to throw to the other Butte guy for a change,” Peoples said. “I don’t have any of my receivers, so that will be different. It’s good to get to know these guys. As the week goes on our chemistry is building up and it’s getting more comfortable with our receivers.”
Peoples helped lead the Maroons to within an eyelash of the Class AA State championship last season.
He ranks first in school history with 310 career completions, 4,840 career yards and 46 touchdowns. His 5,893 total yards trail only Matt Ritter, who racked up 5,993.
As much as he impressed as a quarterback, though, his kicking was off the charts.
Peoples set a state record with 113 career extra points, breaking the mark set by Tanner Roderick, who had 110 in Bozeman. He also ranks No. 1 in the school record book with eight field goals in a season and 14 in his career.
Those marks, though, don’t even tell half the story of the kicking of peoples, who has kicked a 56-yard field goal in practice.
His kickoffs went into the end zone almost every time he kicked the ball. That meant the Maroons always had an edge when it came to field position.
“I worked on that all year because we realized how much of a difference it would make to put teams at the 20 all the time,” he said.
Those kickoffs were also had to be a big reason why new Griz coach Bob Stitt talked Peoples out of taking scholarship offers that came with a chance to play quarterback to kick with the Grizzlies.
Presumably the chance to following in the footsteps of former Grizzly kickers like Dan Carpenter, who has kicked in the NFL since 2008, played a role as well. Carpenter is currently the kicker for the Buffalo Bills.
Peoples, though, downplays the idea of playing in the NFL.
“It should be every college player’s goal to play at the next level,” the future business major said. “I’m just going to get as good as I can be, work hard, see where it takes me and have a lot of success down in Missoula.”
Danny Peoples won’t be the first Peoples to play in the Montana East-West Shrine game. His grandfather Don Peoples Sr. and his great-uncle Jim Peoples played in the game. His uncles Doug and Kevin Peoples also played in the game.
“He’s the third generation in our family,” Don Peoples Jr. said. “I wasn’t on the roster.”
However, Peoples Jr., who has been the head coach at BC since 1989, is no stranger to the game. He is the head coach of the West team this year, a position he held in 2002 as well. He was a Shrine assistant in 1992.
“It’s a big honor,” Danny Peoples said. “I remember coming up here and hanging out for a week when my dad was coaching and I was just a little guy. I got to stay in the dorms and I had a lot of fun up here. Since then it’s been a dream of mine to make this team and be the quarterback.
“It means a lot to be picked for it, and I’m honored to be able to represent western Montana.”
The meaning of the game, which raises money for the Shriners Hospital for Children in Spokane, isn’t lost on Peoples either.
“Jeff showed a presentation of a few kids who had to have legs amputated, and they’re going through the Shriners Hospital now and getting treatment,” Peoples said, referring to West Team Coordinator Jeff Hartwick. “Now they’re playing sports and everything. Seeing those guys, it means a lot to be part of it to help.”
It also means a lot for Peoples to get one last chance to play quarterback.
“It will be a lot different not playing quarterback because I have since I was in fourth grade,” Peoples said. “All my family is sad about it. But they’re excited about seeing me play down in Missoula, too.”
Note: ButteSports.com will profile all six players representing the Mining City in the July 18 Montana East-West Shrine Game in Great Falls. Other players from Butte are Kaemen Richards, Chad Peterson and Marcus Ferriter of Butte Central and Dalton Daum and Clay Dean of Butte High. 3 comments