GV football’s Peterson brothers: from the backyard to the big field


GVL / Rachel Slomba

Holly Bihlman, Sports Editor

This football season during the second game against Wisconsin-La Crosse, sophomore quarterback, Cade Peterson, threw a pass that would be caught by redshirt freshman tight end, Drew Peterson, making it Drew’s first college catch, but probably his thousandth from Cade.

Back when Cade and Drew were young enough to play catch, they started their football careers in the backyard, coached by their dad until they were old enough to join a team. The pair have kept by each other’s sides along with their younger brother, Bret, through years of football, basketball, and baseball. Now, their names are being broadcasted on the big screen at Lubbers Stadium together.

Growing up in Lake City, MI until Cade was a junior in high school and Drew a sophomore, the Peterson family moved to Glen Lake, MI to finish out their high school careers after being coached by their dad all the way through. After 30 years of coaching, Bret’s last year in high school will most likely end their dad’s coaching career as he watches all three of his sons take their next steps forward.

“He (Cade) was always the one throwing to me in the backyard, I was always the one catching for him,” Drew said. “So that’s how we grew up and that’s how it’s taken us to the stage.”

Drew is currently a junior credit-wise, double majoring in sports management and exercise science, but his position at the tight end on the football field is what he really wants to focus on this year.

“I can only be an athlete for so long, and the memories that I’ll make in this locker room and with my brother on the field; I don’t really want to look past that,” Drew said.

While Cade has seen his share of playing time and game-day experiences, Drew has stepped up the plate this season and taken over for some of his tight-end teammates. Senior, Grant Depmster, was out for the first three games of the season with an injury, and junior, Jayk Slager, and redshirt freshman, Gavin Cossou, were both out in the Oct. 2 game against Saginaw Valley State University, leaving Drew an opportunity to play some football. After his own shoulder surgery last year, he’s shown that he’s ready to come out and play with his brother.

“Drew has been thrust forward and forced into more action than we anticipated as coaches,” said coach Matt Mitchell. “I’m proud of the progress he’s made.”

On the other hand, Cade is a senior on his way to graduate with his degree in business finance and business management in the spring, but both plan to use their extra two seasons of eligibility.

“Cade is very, very confident right now, and his confidence bears on the fact that he’s played more and is probably the oldest brother and had to lead more,” Mitchell said. “I think Cade is already meeting some of our expectations; he’s leading our team to 4-0 and top ten. Our entire team—offense, defense coaches—has a lot of confidence in him.”

After playing in nine games during the 2019 season, starting two of them, Cade completed 546 yards and five touchdowns, and the numbers are growing this year as he leads the Lakers to victory after victory. Just this past Saturday, Oct. 9, Cade threw his season high passing yards at 251 for a grand total of 889 so far this season.

“I like the style and competitive nature of football; it’s way different than any other sport,” Cade said. “It’s as much of a team game that you can have, and it was a part of my life for so long that I couldn’t really see how I couldn’t pursue that.”

Aside from football being in their blood, the brothers also have a lot in common outside of practice and games. When they aren’t trying to work around each other’s schedules, they’re often doing a lot of the same things.

“There’s so many more responsibilities, different meeting times, different schedules when it comes to different positions, so we see each other when we’re on the same time, but it’s not actually that often that we are able to sit down and just, like, talk,” Cade said.

Even when they’re in the locker room after practice, they sometimes forget they’re doing all of the same things and some of the other players don’t even realize they’re brothers.

“I’ve gotten that like three times in the last week,” Drew said. “Sometimes we’ll just catch ourselves walking by each other in the locker room, not even saying a word, just going to do our own thing.”

While their positions on the field differ in technicalities and skill sets, they’re both driven players who hold themselves to some pretty high standards. When Cade first made the decision to head to GVSU, he was also turning down several Division I offers.

“When my recruiting started with Grand Valley, I always felt like he (Mitchell) was telling me the truth, and I loved that when I came here,” Cade said. “I felt a very healthy balance of comfortability with the people I was around, but knowing they were going to coach me hard and want the best out of me and have high expectations. It made the decision for me.”

Drew felt a lot of the same, but he wasn’t worried about his older brother’s place on the team having any influence on his own recruitment.

“They made it known that the reason they were recruiting me wasn’t because I had an older brother on the team, they were really interested in my talents and what I had to bring to the table,” Drew said.

Now, three and four years later, the brothers are playing the same field with their parents in the crowd as often as they can be. Before the pass during the Wisconsin-La Crosse game, they hadn’t had much of an opportunity to see each other in real game time, but their first pass together hopefully won’t be their last before their time at GVSU is over. The possibility of Bret joining the team is also on the table, maybe leaving an opportunity for Drew and Bret to share some playing time together.

“It was a cool moment,” Cade said. “When we were in the game it wasn’t really something I thought about, but once the game ended, got the win, I was able to decompress a little bit. I was like, ‘wow, that’s pretty awesome.’ It probably made my mom cry a little bit.”

Looking ahead, Cade is always staying focused on the next game and the next play, and Drew is always soaking up every moment he has as an athlete, but the pair are more than likely going to play football for as long as they can. Whether Cade is coaching a high school or college team, Drew is practicing his degree in the sports industry, or the brothers are back in their yard playing catch with each other, there will always be a football close by.

This weekend on Saturday, Oct. 16, the Lakers will face off against the rival Ferris State University Bulldogs in a home game showdown, where the Peterson brothers will make their family and team proud as they make the most out of every play they can together.