Perry is PCA’s running man

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 20, 2008

Amongst the chaos of Porters Chapel’s victory celebration last Friday, Josh Perry wandered around like a wide-eyed child. This was a moment he’d been waiting four years for, and he tried to take it in as much as celebrate with his teammates.

Finally, he approached his coach.

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Porters Chapel at Glenbrook

MPSA Class A semifinals

“This is awesome,” Perry said. “I’ve never even been to the playoffs before.”

Now he has. And with one more victory, he’ll be playing for a state championship. Perry and the undefeated Eagles (12-0) will head to Minden, La., to face Glenbrook (10-2) in the MPSA Class A semifinals on Friday. It’s a position Perry never imagined himself in just a few months ago when he was hoping to land a starting job in Warren Central’s secondary.

“I honestly thought this was where everybody came when they couldn’t play. As I got older, I understood the competition is the same no matter where you are,” Perry said. “I wanted my senior season to be memorable. You don’t have fun in football if you don’t win.”

For three years, Perry wore Warren Central red. He started a few games at safety in 2007 and also played some at receiver, recording one tackle and catching one pass for 16 yards. He had worked himself into competition for a more prominent role this season, but his relationship with the coaching staff soured. A summer job kept him from attending a number of offseason workouts, and Perry said he started to see his chances of starting this season decline.

As the situation worsened, Perry contemplated transferring to Porters Chapel. He thought it over, and finally made the move just before school started in August. When the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder strolled into PCA’s weight room for his first workout, coach Randy Wright felt like Christmas had come a few months early.

Although Perry had played receiver and safety for most of his high school career, Wright already had plenty of those. What he needed was a tailback and a linebacker, and with his size and speed Perry seemed a perfect fit for the role. And, as the season has progressed, Wright’s judgment has been proven accurate.

Perry has rushed for 1,507 yards and 19 touchdowns this season. He’s also caught two touchdown passes and run back two kicks for scores, all while making 109 tackles on defense. Perry’s success at tailback made sure there was little dropoff from last season, when Austin Barber rushed for 1,615 yards and 18 TDs, and has also opened up other avenues of attack for an offense that’s averaged 38 points per game this year.

“No question, Josh Perry coming here has definitely put us over the top,” Wright said. “He gives us that dimension in the backfield and on defense that we didn’t have. And he’s also given us some leadership.”

For all of his gaudy stats, Perry said he’s still learning how to run the football. He’d only played tailback a few times over the course of his football career. He credited PCA’s offensive line for creating the holes that have led to a lot of his yards.

“It’s been odd. I played a little bit of running back, but not enough to get my vision down. My eyes are still a little slow at finding the holes,” Perry said. “Over time you get the experience to overlook the false holes. There’s a lot of decoy holes out there that the defense uses. Those are the ones I happen to find. Sometimes it makes my line look bad when I go to those.”

Perry has found enough holes to get the Eagles this far. For them to beat Glenbrook, he’ll likely need a better game than he had in last week’s second-round win over Huntington when he was held to just 51 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. While it’s Perry’s responsibility to find running room, as always, PCA offensive lineman Stewart Williams said it was the job of the guys up front to make it easier for their star back.

“If me and Ghost Jones and the rest of the line do their job, J.P. runs the ball as well as anybody I’ve seen,” Williams said. “When he’s got holes, it’s going to be a touchdown.”


Contact Ernest Bowker at