Purser fulfills his family legacy
June 11, 2008 · Updated 4:28 PM
"Don Purser saw the hit coming.Purser was a quarterback (along with deep snapper and defensive end) for North Kitsap High School, and now lines up over center as the quarterback for the West Sound Orcas.During the Orcas' June 24 game against Snohomish County, Purser dropped back to pass, searched for a receiver ... and knew something was wrong.I was doing a fake, rolling to my right, Purser said. I looked downfield and saw a guy coming at me. I knew I had to get rid of it.The guy was a Snohomish County linebacker, sprinting towards him. Purser flung his arm forward to complete the pass, and the linebacker hit him at full speed, knocking him to the ground.I knew I was hurt pretty bad, Purser said. I couldn't breathe, and I hurt, but I thought, 'This is football - I'll stay in.'He toughed it out through the first quarter, completing four of his eight passing attempts.I took a lot of hits. I couldn't breathe, and I felt it crunch right here, he said, touching his back.Purser didn't leave the game, however, until one of his linemen noticed he was hurt and called a time out. A trip to the doctor showed that his ribs were intact, but he was told that he might have suffered torn muscles or injured cartilage.Instead of taking the week off, though, Purser wrapped himself in bandages, donned rib protectors and was back in the starting lineup for the Orcas in their July 1 game against Bellingham.He said he could go, said Orcas head coach Larry Bell, who later replaced Purser with South Kitsap's Erik Simonsen for the second half. I think his rib was bothering him a little more than he was willing to admit.Such is the life of Don Purser, who has football in his blood.I have a history of quarterbacks in my family, he said. That's why I want to play QB.Purser's uncle, Ralph Purser, played the position at West Bremerton High in 1972-73. His cousin, Mike Stewart, played at Bremerton High School - the Orcas' home field - in 1989.Purser, who grew up in North Kitsap's Little Boston, learned to play quarterback from his uncle.He showed me a lot of throwing techniques. He spent a lot of time throwing passes with me, he said.During his own high school career, Purser played several positions at North Kitsap. But when he graduated in 1993, he wanted to attend a college that would give him a shot at what he calls the glory position - quarterback.If I had to play at one position, I might as well play quarterback, Purser said, because I knew what everyone was doing. You're just controlling everything.So Purser attended Black Hills State University in North Dakota. He did play football there, but it was a run-and-shoot offense.It was just somewhere to go, he said. I didn't get to pass much.He returned to North Kitsap, where he worked as a commercial diver and fisherman and counselor at the Port Gamble S'Klallam Youth Center. He still played quarterback, but now his teammates were the kids at the youth center.Then he met Dave Snyder, a former college player who was coaching football and teaching at Kingston Junior High. Snyder mentioned there was a new semipro team starting in the area and suggested that Purser try out.The only reason Purser didn't start the first game of the season, according to Bell, was that he tried out late and wasn't accustomed to the offense. But once he stepped onto the field, Bell said, it helped the team.He's super cool-headed, Bell said. He never gets excited. He's a real quiet, confident kind of fellow who puts everyone at ease. When the quarterback gets excited and out of control, that's when things go wrong.Purser brings other qualities to the team, Bell said.He's got a very high caliber of character, Bell said. He's not afraid to play hurt. He throws the ball well. He's not the most mobile guy, but he's no stick in the mud, either.As the hit that knocked him out of the Vikings game proved, Bell said, He knows how to play through pain.Purser said he's just glad to be back in organized football.It's a lot of fun, just to be playing with a lot of guys who really know what they're doing, he said. It's like a big family.Or, in Purser's case, another big family.My uncles - including his early tutor, Ralph - come out (to games), and my cousins and aunts, he said. Even his wife comes to the games.She wasn't really into it before, he said. But once I got into it, she's learning about football."