After attending Chisholm Catholic College and then Guildford Grammar School, Pearce made his senior debut for Swan Districts in Round 17, 2008 and played in eight league games, including the 2008 WAFL Grand Final, which the Swans lost to Subiaco. He had played in Swan District's colts premiership winning side in 2007. Pearce represented Western Australia at the 2008 AFL Under 18 Championships and was named in the All-Australian Team. He was also named as the captain of the 2008 WAFL Colts Team of the Year, but was overlooked in the 2008 National Draft and instead was drafted to Fremantle in the 2009 Rookie Draft with Fremantle's fourth round selection, number 48 overall. After displaying good form during the 2009 WAFL season, including a career high 26 disposals against Peel Thunder in late May, he was elevated to Fremantle's senior list in early June 2009.
He kicked a goal in his debut match, minutes after fellow debutant and Swan Districts teammate Michael Walters also kicked a goal. In total he gathered 16 possessions and six marks, but Fremantle lost the match by 24 points.