Peppenger brothers out kick the competition


    Gabe Peppenger was 13-years-old the first time he took a field. He made a 37-yard field goal, and his brother Spencer was right by his side

    A brotherly competition goes back as long as time, and the Peppengers have been competing long before they ever took a football field.

    "We're just jumping on our parents bed one time, and he just decides to shove me, shoved me right into the corner of their table stand, gashed my head open," Spencer said.

    "I mean there's a couple stories like that where I made him crack his head open," Gabe said

    Spencer interjected "More than many."

    Their story started similarly to many football kickers, as standout soccer athletes. That changed when former Montana Grizzlies kicker Damian Khoury suggested they try kicking a football.

    Khoury went with the boys, and their father Dave Peppenger, to try and help them out. What he saw was Gabe hit a field goal from 37 yards.

    "Damian said 'How old is he?' and I said 'thirteen' and he said 'he should be doing this'," Dave said. "So that's where it spun off from and the Spencer just kind of followed suit and followed his footsteps and then created his own path."

    Spencer recalls that first outing with his brother, and claims he wasn't too bad himself.

    "I just kind of went out with my brother and I ended up kicking it through the uprights."

    After practicing for a couple years, Gabe had to choose which high school he wanted to kick for. But he needed a coach who was on his same page.

    "I went to each high school orientation and talked with their head coaches, asked them if I could play soccer and football at the same time," Gabe said "Hellgate and Big Sky looked at me kind of weirdly...when I met coach Oliver he just kind of accepted that and it kind of just took off from there."

    Gabe became a standout at Sentinel as he continued to hone his craft. But not far behind was Spencer, who played on the JV team as a sophomore while Gabe was a senior. By his own admission, he's glad there wasn't an open tryout for the varsity job.

    But Gabe had a decision to make, and he chose to go to Bozeman to kick for the Bobcats. After five years of honing their skills together, Spencer and Gabe went their separate ways.

    "I kind of just didn't have a mentor type person, there was just kind of a gap in coaching," Spencer said "I still would send him videos of me kicking and I'd fix i, but it was kind of just a gap."

    But after one season in Bozeman, Gabe decided to return to Missoula and play for the Grizzlies. Coincidentally, it was also his brother's senior season with his alma mater.

    "I'm really grateful actually," Gabe said. "I didn't get to catch a whole lot of his junior year, and watching a little brother compete, and he's really good at it, I was sad but now that I was able to catch a lot more games and to see him succeed it was a wonderful thing."

    And is their anything that would make a father more proud, than seeing his two boys come together to hone a craft.

    "I have to say there are obviously those times they get under each other's skins," Dave said" But for the most part they're super super good kids, they have big hearts and they really really care about each other. That's always good as a parent to know that no matter what happens to me they'll always be there to take care of each other."

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