The huddle is a sacred place in football; one where the team and game are the only things that count. We’re going inside the huddle by talking to football players on the POWERADE FAB 50 teams to find out their most valuable lessons learned -- on or off the field -- that contribute to their success.
Senior running back Desmon Peoples of FAB 50 No. 22 Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.) bounced back from a season-ending injury in his junior year to pace the Vikings' dangerous offensive attack this fall. Peoples rushed for 178 yards on 10 carries and two touchdowns in Wood's 70-14 drubbing of Allentown Central Catholic (Allentown, Pa.) this past weekend, earning a place in Friday's PIAA AAA state title game. The 5-foot-8, 175-pounder is a 3.0 student committed to play for Rutgers, where he plans to major in business.
A little more than a year ago, after logging 1,360 rushing yards (with an 8.0 yards per carry average) and 25 total TDs in 11 games played, Peoples broke his left foot in the Philadelphia Catholic League championship game, forcing him to watch the Vikings' final three games from the sidelines.
"That was a pretty hard time," said Peoples. "I just didn't like the feeling of watching my team play without me. I wanted to contribute. But I never lost faith."
Some advice from a player who had been in his shoes before went a long way.
"I actually had a conversation with [Syracuse product] Curtis Brinkley, who plays for the San Diego Chargers, and he had a similar injury to mine," said Peoples of the former West Catholic (Philadelphia) star. "He just encouraged me that all that I needed to do was to put my all into therapy and to concentrate on getting my strength back and that everything would be fine."
That's exactly what Peoples did, as he dedicated this past offseason to a grueling regimen that included work in the pool and on the track.
"I just worked really hard and I came back strong for this year," said Peoples. "I just felt confident that I could do the same thing if not better."
Having overcome a scary setback at a crucial time in his playing career and in the midst of the recruiting process, he's now in a position to provide counsel as Brinkley did for him.
"Play every game and every play like it's your last," Peoples said, "because you never know when something bad might happen and you could be out for a while. So go 100 percent every chance that you get, because the next play isn't promised."
ROLE MODEL: Darrien Peoples, father -- "My dad has always been the big factor in my life. He always motivated me to be the best that I can be on and off the field. He's just the epitome of a hard-working man."