High School Football

Confident and elusive ... Find out what makes Downey’s wide receiving group so special.

Downey’s three primary receivers from the left, Anderson Grover, Ethan Difuntorum, and Bryce Peterson at Downey High School in Modesto, Calif., on Tuesday, August 28, 2018.
Downey’s three primary receivers from the left, Anderson Grover, Ethan Difuntorum, and Bryce Peterson at Downey High School in Modesto, Calif., on Tuesday, August 28, 2018. aalfaro@modbee.com

They are confident. They are a close group. They all have breakaway speed.

Downey’s wide receiving star trio does it all and more.

Together, seniors Anderson Grover and Bryce Peterson and junior Ethan Difuntorum have combined for 29 of the 34 receptions for the Knights this year, 535 of the 603 receiving yards, and six of the seven touchdowns for 2-0 Downey, which hosts Merced on Friday at 7 p.m.

“I honestly think we have the best receiving corps in the league by far,” Peterson said. “Our speed, every receiver has hands, we can do anything.”

Echoed Difuntorum: “We are just really tight as a team and as a receiving corps. We can catch anything and we are too fast for every other defense.”

With junior Bryce Gouker and freshman Beau Green battling for the No. 1 quarterback spot, the trio have made it easier for both QBs by separating themselves from opposing defenders and excelling with yards-after-catch. Difuntorum and Grover have multiple catches this year of at least 50 yards and both have 80-yard touchdown catches.

“I like that the game is on our shoulders,” Grover said. “We can change the game and we can make the plays.”

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Anderson Grover, 26, takes a big step into the end zone for a touchdown against East Union. Downey High took on East Union Friday Aug. 17, 2018. Marty Bicek mbicek@modbee.com

Grover is the most elusive of the group with over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in his 13 varsity career games. For the 6-foot-2 receiver, the offense isn’t that complex.

“As soon as I catch the ball in those out routes and cut up the field, there is nothing to it,” he said.

Of his 80-yard TD reception that gave Downey a 38-20 lead in their eventual 44-42 victory over Manteca, Green said of his wide receiver: “I just gave him the ball and he did all the work. He got some nice blocks out in front him. He did everything, really.”

Peterson, a UC Davis commit, is the most all-around athlete of the three, having been the starting quarterback last year. That experience has given him an advantage.

“Before the plays just like the quarterback position, we are reading the defense and knowing what spot is going to be open,” he said. “If I have to sit on a curl or something, I know how to adjust to get open.”

Playing in a spread offense with two or three receivers bunched on one side brings more opportunities and is “more enjoyable” than blocking, Peterson said. But, he does whatever the team needs to get the ball down field.

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Downey High Ethan Difuntorum (5), playing defense, grabs an interception during a game last year against Pitman. Marty Bicek mbicek@modbee.com

Ethan Difuntorum, also known as “E”, is the group’s newcomer. As a sophomore last year, he played defensive back and in the off-season, he made the switch to receiver.

All he did in his first varsity game two weeks ago was score on a 80-yard touchdown reception in Downey’s 39-19 win over East Union.

“I wanted to get the route down and get my yardage up so that our team could drive and end up scoring like we ended up doing,” Difuntorum said. “My biggest goal is not to score every touchdown but to get the yards and drive down the field so our running backs or whoever can finish off the drive.”

Difuntourm watches film on himself and finds areas that need work.

“I expected this,” he said of his fast progress. “I knew going into this season it was going to be like this.”

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Bryce Peterson, 4, of Downey High works his way up field during their game against East Union. Downey High took on East Union Friday Aug. 17, 2018. Marty Bicek mbicek@modbee.com

An already talented group will be getting an addition soon with the return of senior Javon Gamez, who has not played in the first two games but had 332 receiving yards and three touchdowns last year.

“We really treat our receivers well and we like to get the ball to them in space,” Grover said. “I just like how the receivers play a big role”

The only thing missing from this group: a nickname. All of them said the group hasn’t created a name yet.

Maybe that will come soon ... along with a lot more touchdowns.

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