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Father, son enjoying Coe's ride together

Defensive end Robbie Peters coached by his father, Joe

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CEDAR RAPIDS — The sport wasn’t football. The year is up for debate.

The first time Joe Peters coached his son, Robbie, was in middle school at Mount Vernon. It was basketball, to be precise.

“Oh, man. It was probably sixth or seventh grade,” Robbie Peters said. “He was my basketball coach, my middle-school track coach, then my football coach in JV and high school, too. Ever since I was little, we would always play catch in the yard. We were always doing something sporty together. He was always at my games and stuff like that. I grew up used to it. It was always that way.”

And it’s that way today. Peters is having a tremendous junior season as a starting defensive end for a Coe College football team that has a huge game Saturday afternoon at Dubuque.

His position coach is none other than his dad. Joe Peters in his third season since returning to the Kohawks sideline, also serving a stint in the mid-1980s.

“Pretty nice to be able to enjoy that experience with him,” Joe said. “To be here, to help coach him. It’s been that way ever since he was a little kid. I’ve coached him all the way through. So it’s been a lot of fun to coach him and have the relationship that we do have. It’s been a good run.”

Joe Peters is a teacher at Mount Vernon High School. He was an assistant at the school when Robbie came through the Mustangs’ football program.

When the younger Peters was looking for a college, he asked his dad to go on a visit with him to Coe. Joe is a 1983 graduate.

“I really liked it,” Robbie said. “Coach Steve Staker and his son were here, the Atwaters were here. I liked the family connection thing. I eventually committed here, and dad got a job here soon after. Pretty cool.”

Tyler Staker, Steve’s son, is Coe’s first-year head coach, though Steve remains on the staff as a defensive assistant. Larry Atwater is the Kohawks’ long-time defensive coordinator and coached his sons at the school.

Mark Atwater is in his first season as an assistant coach at Coe.

“Robbie does real well,” Joe Peters said. “We’ve got a good group of kids. We’ve got a lot of Metro kids, Robbie from Mount Vernon and Jake Morris from Solon. I will say this, it’s been kind of a breakout year for Robbie this year. He’s really having a good season. We’ve talked about this, but a lot of our defensive linemen had to play as freshmen and sophomores. Now they are juniors and seniors, and that makes a world of difference for those guys.”

As Joe mentioned, it’s a local flavor on the Coe D-line with guys like Peters, Morris, Daniel Vega (Cedar Rapids Xavier), Andrew Netolicky (Cedar Rapids Prairie) and Drew Heitland (Cedar Rapids Kennedy). Robbie Peters leads the Iowa Conference in tackles for loss and was a member of the D3football.com National Team of the Week two weeks ago after recording a career-high seven tackles and running an interception back for touchdown in a 37-34 win over Wartburg.

Coe and Dubuque are undefeated (6-0) and tied for first in the Iowa Conference, so Peters and his linemates are going to have to have another big game for the Kohawks to win. Kickoff is 2 p.m.

“We’re playing a very good team, a well-coached team, conference champion,” Joe Peters said. “Two undefeated teams. We’re going to have to play solid, play our game. We’ve talked to the guys about staying in gap control, just doing their jobs. You’re going to have to play a full 60 minutes.”

“We want to take away the run game, and I think we can do a pretty good job of that. Make them one dimensional,” Robbie Peters said. “And then we’ve got to get a good pass rush. I think that’s the best pass defense is a good pass rush. I think we’ll be able to do that this Saturday.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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