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Jersey Shore’s Peacock does a little bit of everything

MARK NANCE/For The Express Kooper Peacock has been Mr. Everything for Jersey Shore.

Kooper Peacock made 10 tackles, collected a sack and forced a fumble which Tate Sechrist returned for a touchdown last Saturday against Meadville. Peacock knows defense.

Peacock caught three passes totaling 87 yards and turned a 15-yard catch into a 59-yard touchdown. Peacock knows offense.

Peacock punted five times and twice pinned Meadville inside the 20-yard line, helping flip field position and setting up a game-clinching touchdown. Peacock knows … Well, you get the idea.

Peacock has become Jersey Shore’s Mr. Everything. He truly is a jack of all trades and has been a crucial part of this team’s success the past two seasons. Like he did a year ago, Peacock also is surging at the right time and the junior three-way starter played one of his best games against Meadville, helping Jersey Shore win, 30-6. That victory earned the Bulldogs (14-0) a berth in its third straight Final 4 and they play WPIAL champion Aliquippa Friday at Central Cambria High School.

“He covers kicks, he returns kick, he returns punts … He doesn’t get a break and there’s never any letup,” Jersey Shore coach Tom Gravish said. “He never asks for a play off or for someone to spell him on special teams. He wants to be there.”

Jersey Shore sure likes having him everywhere. Peacock just does not play all over the field, he plays everywhere really well. He is a dangerous wide receiver, an excellent safety, a quality returner and among the area’s top four in punting average. Like his sister Holly and brothers Koby and Karter, Peacock is leaving quite a mark at Jersey Shore while enjoying the ride.

“I love it,” Peacock said. “Any way I can help the team out I want to do it. We always want to play to the best of our ability.”

Peacock certainly has done that again this season. He has 24 catches for 407 yards and four touchdowns, while adding four rushing touchdowns. The junior also has helped anchor a strong secondary, making 62 tackles, including seven for loss, and intercepting three passes. Peacock returned one of those picks for a touchdown, nearly returned a punt for a score, averages 14 yards per punt return and has a 38.5 yards per punt average, dropping 14 inside the 20-yard line.

All those qualities came shining through against Meadville as Peacock repeatedly made big plays at perfect times. He also made the game’s biggest play, dramatically changing the game’s complexion early in the second quarter. Meadville had moved to the Bulldog 8-yard line when Peacock came charging through the line like an Orange flame. Peacock drilled quarterback Grant Longstreth 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage and jarred the ball loose. Sechrist scooped up the fumble and returned it 75 yards for a score which ignited a 24-point second-quarter eruption.

“That was an icebreaker. That built us a lot of momentum,” two-way starter Cayden Hess said. “It was a lot of fun watching Tate take off and seeing Kooper hit him like that.”

After showcasing his defensive prowess, Peacock turned offensive late in the first half. On a third-and-10, quarterback Brady Jordan found Peacock over the middle for 15 yards. Peacock faked out the closest defender then saw nothing but green.

During a 41-0 District 4 championship win against Selinsgrove, Peacock nearly took a punt back for a touchdown but was caught inside the 10-yard line. He made sure history did not repeat itself this time, outrunning the entire secondary and completing the 59-yard scoring play. A series later, Peacock made a brilliant 27-yard catch in traffic along the left sideline, setting up Breck Miller for a field goal which gave Jersey Shore a 24-6 halftime lead.

“I thought back to Selinsgrove when I got tackled at the 7 on one of my punt returns. I just had to turn on the afternburners so nobody caught me,” Peacock said of his touchdown before addressing his sideline catch. “Getting that right before the half, it really takes the momentum toward us a lot. It was a great play to get and a nice throw by Brady.”

“Kooper is a weapon. He’s going to be even more of a weapon next year, too,” Hess said. “I’m looking forward to watching him and seeing how he does.”

Hess and his teammates have enjoyed watching Peacock grow not just as a player, but as a leader these past two years. Jersey Shore players gave Peacock the ultimate sign of respect, electing him as a captain despite not yet being a senior during the preseason.

That combination of production and leadership started shining through a year ago when Peacock started as a sophomore for a senior-laden team which reached the state championship. Like this year, Peacock elevated his performance that postseason as well, slamming the door on Crestwood with two fourth-quarter interceptions in a 26-14 state quarterfinal victory.

A week later, Peacock was part of the biggest win in program history when Jersey Shore rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit and defeated Lampeter-Strasburg, 39-35 to reach the state final. Karter also played an excellent game that night and, together, the Peacock’s form a dynamic brotherly tandem. Karter made a game-high 18 tackles against Meadville and also produced a sack.

Karter is a senior so this is the last time the Peacock brothers will play high school football together. They sure are making the most of this experience and trying to create the best ending possible.

“It’s awesome playing with my brother. I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Kooper said. “He’s my role model; he’s always there for me. I love it.”

Being a role model must be in the family blood because Kooper is setting quite an example, too.

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