Basalt star goes ‘out on top’
Basalt High standout Clayton Peetz had one last chance to showcase his talents at the Colorado All-State football game Saturday in Denver.Peetz garnered numerous honors for the 2004 football season. In addition to being selected to the Class 2A All-State team and picked to play in the All-State game, he was the Western Slope Conference’s offensive player of the year.”Clayton was definitely one of the strongest players on the field each and every game,” said Basalt coach Forrest Grosh. The All-State game brings together the top prep players as selected by coaches. But when Peetz took the field Saturday, he assumed a new position – cornerback. Peetz, who played running back and linebacker, decided to try cornerback because too many tail backs were selected for the game.”He has all-around football smarts,” Grosh said, and taking on a new position in a big game “is just another example of Clayton as a team player.”The opportunity to play in Saturday’s All-State game came after an adversity-riddled senior season for Peetz and the Longhorns. Peetz injured his shoulder in the season’s fifth game, forcing him to sit out two games and hampering the rest of his high school career. “He was the second-leading rusher in all of 2A when that happened,” said Jerry Peetz, Clayton’s father. “He would have been a contender for the state [rushing] title.”Peetz played through his injury to lead the Longhorns to one of their best seasons in history. Grosh said Clayton’s character and dedication to the game made him one of the team’s most respected players.”He had some high expectations for himself and the team,” he said. “All of his teammates really look up to him, respect him and put him up on a pedestal.”Peetz had shoulder surgery to repair damaged tendons and cartilage five days after the end of the season. Peetz, who also plays basketball, was forced to miss his senior season in that sport.”Missing your senior year basketball season and having to watch all your friends from the sidelines kind of sucks,” he said.His shoulder healed in time for the football game, however, and Peetz was thrilled to have one more opportunity to play before heading off to Colorado State in the fall.”It’s good to go out playing in a pretty big game,” Peetz said. The best part of the game was “just being out there, playing with those kids that you read about in the paper in the fall.”Peetz and his All-State teammates started practicing Tuesday for Saturday’s game, which closed many players’ high school careers.”A lot of the parents were pretty emotional,” said Jerry Peetz. “I was a little worried about him, but he did OK.”Many of the All-State players are headed to Division I or Division III schools such as the University of Colorado, Wyoming, Iowa State and Mesa State to play football in the fall, Peetz said. Competing against athletes of such a high caliber was challenging, but also a relief to Peetz, who assumed a hefty responsibility for the Longhorns.”This game I didn’t really have to have the weight on my shoulders,” he said. “This game, everyone there was a really good athlete and it’s more of a team effort.”Peetz will take some time off of football this fall to concentrate on school. He hopes to walk on at CSU in the spring, but he said he’s ready for a break from football.”It’s been my whole life, so it’ll be kind of nice to just focus on school,” he said.He plans to study real estate and finance, and lift weights to get ready for a spring tryout at CSU. Walking on to the team in the spring, Peetz said, gives him a chance to learn the system before the fall season.Both Peetz and his father agree that academics take priority. Both hope that football will remain a part of Clayton’s life, but they keep a healthy perspective.”Next year, if he decides he wants to walk on, that’s fine,” Jerry Peetz said. “If not, he’s had a good run at football, and he went out on top.”
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The Longhorns track and field prowess was most evident with their runners, winning multiple events and showing they are to be a factor for podiums, if not state championships, later this month at the state meet in Lakewood.