Named for one of the NFL's greatest quarterbacks, Peyton Pelluer followed his father's and brothers' footsteps and became a standout linebacker.
RENTON — Back when Scott Pelluer was playing linebacker for the New Orleans Saints, he would occasionally play catch with a teammate’s son.
The teammate was quarterback Archie Manning. The son was future NFL star Peyton Manning.
Pelluer and his wife, Kim, liked the name so much they named their youngest son after the Manning child, who became the first pick of the 1998 draft and a four-time league MVP.
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As Peyton Pelluer grew up, genetics took over and he didn’t follow in Peyton Manning’s footsteps. Now a high-school junior, Peyton Pelluer is one of the top middle linebackers in the state.
“He’s lights out,” said Skyline coach Mat Taylor after his team practiced at the Seahawks’ Virginia Mason Athletic Center earlier this week. “Every game he’s our leading tackler. He’s just got tremendous instincts. He’s got that knack for finding the ball.”
With 115 solo tackles through 13 games, Peyton’s presence will be pivotal for the Spartans (10-3) against Skyview of Vancouver (11-2) in the Class 4A state championship game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.
He didn’t become a quarterback, but at 6 feet 2 and 220 pounds, he is the director of the defense.
“I like to see myself as the leader on defense, especially after last year,” Peyton said. “I see myself maturing into a better leader as we go on, each and every game. I guess you could say my name helps me with that, I don’t know.”
Peyton is the latest linebacker in the family. Scott played at Washington State before the NFL. Tyler, his oldest brother, played at Montana and Cooper, the middle brother, is at Washington. Like Peyton, Tyler and Cooper played at Skyline.
Peyton might be the family’s hardest hitter, but that wasn’t always the case.
“When he hits somebody he wants to finish them,” Scott said. “He’s always played like that, although when he was really young, he didn’t care for sports. We had to bribe him to play football.”
Then Peyton picked up several sacks one game. Talking to his father later, Peyton said, “Man, it was annoying. The announcer kept announcing my name all the time.”
“Are you kidding me?” Scott asked his son. “You won’t say that when you’re older.”
Scott was right. Peyton still keeps announcers busy.
“I like to think it’s in my blood,” Peyton said. “My dad always likes to joke around that I’m the nastiest of the bunch. I’m different from them (his brothers). I like being different. I’m the smallest also. It’s no big deal. I’m the nastiest, I like to think.”
Pelluer’s leadership is a big reason the Spartans’ defense has improved. The difference, as he put it, is playing alignment, assignment football.
“We did that and now we’re playing with as much confidence as we’ve ever had,” he said.
That confidence will be critical if the Spartans are to knock off the Storm and win their fourth title in five years. Peyton plans to lead the way.
“We do expect for him to be the quarterback out there,” Taylor said.
Mason Kelley: 206-464-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org