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GAC's Whiteneck breaks out during senior season

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Greater Atlanta Christian senior wide receiver Peter Whiteneck has set a new school record for catches in a season, helping the Spartans reach the state semifinals.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Greater Atlanta Christian senior wide receiver Peter Whiteneck has set a new school record for catches in a season, helping the Spartans reach the state semifinals.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Greater Atlanta Christian wide receiver Peter Whiteneck poses for a portrait and has caught 53 catches this season a school record for the Spartans.

NORCROSS -- Forget his three head coaches, Peter Whiteneck's rolled through four different receiver coaches during his four seasons at Greater Atlanta Christian.

Forget a first-year quarterback and a new offense his senior season, last year he caught passes from a rotating trio of quarterbacks of varying heights, styles and strengths.

Forget the old single season record for catches at GAC, the record now belongs to Whiteneck.

It's been an offensive awakening for the Spartans during this wild season that's seen early losses, long win streaks, a devastating regular season finale and now a playoff run into the state Class AA semifinals. And among the record setters is the senior Whiteneck who has caught 53 passes for 906 yards and 12 touchdowns in 13 games for the Spartans this season.

"Peter's a guy that coming into this year hadn't had a ton of opportunities on Friday night and he's a good player,' GAC head coach Tim Hardy said. "The reason he's good is he works at it. He might be our best practice player, just is tireless and runs great routes and has just improved. He's better now than he was two weeks ago and he was better then than he was two weeks before that."

It's hard to believe he could be better than two weeks ago when he caught 11 balls for 197 yards and three touchdowns in the Spartans second round win at Heard County. But be it 11 catches and multiple touchdowns or a couple of grabs, limited yards and no scores, Whiteneck keeps working. A self-described perfectionist, Whiteneck asks to rerun practice routes if he doesn't hit his marks to his standards.

"I am so picky about everything," he said.

From the start of preseason practices, Whiteneck worked with first-year quarterback Rafe Chapple to develop their chemistry, allowing for constant improvement this season. Now, with the work put in, Chapple can find Whiteneck open when plays break down.

"We have really good chemistry and we seem to always be on the right page with what we are going to do, so we've been able to improvise a little bit," Whiteneck said.

"He's really learned the finer points of playing the receiver position, how to get open, how to set up the defensive backs and he's got good ball skills," Hardy said. "He's a good player."

A longtime GAC student, Whiteneck joined the football program as a member of the school's first seventh grade football team. Until then, he'd played mostly soccer and he still plays lacrosse. He plays other sports, he works at football.

"I just loved everything about (football)," Whiteneck said. "It was what I had always wanted to do my whole life and the minute I got to start playing it I just fell in love and I knew it was what I wanted to do."

He gravitated toward receiver and saw his own potential, hoping to keep playing as long as possible. As he's compiled catches and touchdowns and plenty of highlights, the colleges are now calling and Whiteneck hopes to continue playing football next season.

"It's been exciting (getting recruited). It's been a little bit hectic since we're still going in this football season as well, but it's definitely better than not being recruited," he said. "I never thought (going to college to play football) would be a reality until this year."

But first, he wants to keep playing this season. He and his Spartans are still chasing something bigger than individual records.

"It's a little bit surprising. I always knew I had the capability to do it," he said of the record. "Coming into the season I wasn't like, 'I'm going to break all the records.' It just happened.

"(This season's) been an amazing ride so far."