As the hours count down to the start of another highly anticipated Turkey Bowl, so is the time in Brian Peters’ mental clock.
It is hard to imagine any player being better prepared for his first start in the state’s biggest rivalry game.
With the Blue Wave winning by an average margin of 33 points on their way to an undefeated season and the No. 1 ranking last year, Peters, the backup quarterback behind Timmy Graham, received considerable playing time at the end of most games.
“That has helped me so much,” Peters said. “We were able to beat up on some teams so I was able to play in the second half a lot. I got so much valuable time. Especially learning from Timmy. He taught me so much.”
Peters has perhaps an even greater intangible in his favor: his four older brothers all played for Darien in the Thanksgiving game, most recently in 2008.
“I’ve been watching the Turkey Bowl since I was 3 years old,” Peters said with a laugh. “I’ve dreamed of this my whole life. I remember us always losing to New Canaan. I remember seeing the crowd being so big and the tradition that comes with the game. It’s incredible.”
Peters’ oldest brother, Billy, played in the 2001 game that was the Blue Wave’s last victory before an 11-year winless streak in the series, with a tie in 2003, when Peters’ brother Kevin was the quarterback.
On Thursday, Peters will try and lead Darien to its fifth straight win in the series.
“I’ve thought about this game the last two weeks,” Peters said. “It’s going to be amazing. One of the biggest games ever. We just have to stay focused and block out the outside media and stay true to ourselves. We will come ready to play.”
Both schools come into this game with 9-0 records. Darien is No. 1 and New Canaan No. 2 in both state polls. The winner will finish as the top seed in its class for the state tournament.
Peters’ play this season has allowed him to break from any family umbilical cord and earn distinction on his own merits. A year after Graham completed a phenomenal 70 percent of his passes, Peters has been successful 65 percent of the time, for an average of 262 yards per game. He has thrown for 26 touchdowns, with just six interceptions.
“Obviously he’s a good athlete,” Darien coach Rob Trifone said. “Beyond any god-given talent, he wanted to succeed and he wanted to be coached. He knew he needed help with techniques as well as reads. What his progressions were. Seniors who are first-year starters sometimes aren’t as coachable as you might be as a sophomore or a junior because you’ve reached the top of the mountain, but not Brian. He was very open to being helped, and I think that helped him to develop the way he has this year.”
Peters threw for a career-high 389 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-35 win over Greenwich in the Blue Wave’s most difficult game of the season.
Darien, despite new starters at most positions besides both lines, has picked up where it left off in 2015.
“Last year’s team was so tough, so motivated and so hungry to win the state championship,” Peters said. “This year’s team learned a lot from last year’s team. How to work hard and get motivated.”
Despite the buildup for the game — there is no conference championship this year, but tickets went on sale Monday and sold out in under an hour — Trifone said he doesn’t expect his quarterback to get rattled.
“One of Brian’s better attributes is that he’s as cool as they come,” Trifone said. “He doesn’t get flustered. It’s just part of his personality. It’s a big game. I’m not saying there won’t be butterflies because there will be butterflies for the coaches. The way he responds to it is very mature and I think he will be fine.”
After years as a spectator, from both the stands and the sideline, Peters said he is relishing the opportunity now that it is his turn to take the field.
“It’s the unofficial FCIAC championship,” Peters said. “It’s different with me being the starter. Its going to be the biggest game of my life. I can’t wait for it.”