Greg McGhee didn’t have to go far to find a new head football coach at William Chrisman High School.
The activities director just went a few doors down the hall, to the office of counselor Matthew Perry, who has been a defensive coordinator and associate head coach to Scorpio Horn the past two seasons.
Tuesday morning, Perry was introduced as Horn’s replacement.
“We introduced Coach Perry to the football team this morning at 7 a.m.,” McGhee said, grinning. “Most of them were tired, and I know all of them were wondering why we’re having a football meeting in January, but when we introduced Coach Perry they began to cheer and applaud. I think it was important to them, and to us, that we maintain some continuity since the team has been having success the past two seasons. It was important to hire from within, and with his background as a head and assistant coach, Coach Perry made that an easy decision.”
Perry, who moved to Independence from Kansas two years ago, is thrilled to be taking over the program, which enjoyed one of the finest seasons in school history in 2016.
“I had to think about it,” said Perry, one of four assistants to seek the head coaching job from Horn’s staff. “I had to talk with my wife about it, and my son (Taylor, a sophomore offensive/defensive lineman for the Bears) and we all came to the conclusion that it would be the right decision to apply for the job. Now, after seeing the players’ reaction this morning, and having some time to think about it, I know I made the right decision and I am excited.”
Perry was a high school head coach for 14 years in Kansas and his wife Cindy, a business teacher at Chrisman, used to teach across the hall from Dale Herl – before he became the Independence School District superintendent – at Little River High School in Little River, Kan. Perry went 93-49 in four years at Otis Bison, four years at Stockton and four years at Lyons in Kansas.
“Dr. Herl is a big reason we moved to Independence,” said Perry, who hopes to keep all the members of the coaching staff intact. “We knew there would be some exciting opportunities. This one came much sooner than any of us expected because Scorpio did such a great job the past two years.”
Horn, who left Chrisman to take the defensive line coaching position at his alma mater, Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, led the Bears to their first postseason win in 2015 and a school-best 8-2 mark and first conference title in 53 years in 2016.
“No pressure, huh, following the coach who had the best record in school history?” joked Perry. “The first time I met Scorpio, I knew he was going to do great things with this program, and he did. Because of what he did, he had the opportunity to return to his alma mater. We all understand why he left, and now we’re ready to have another successful season.”
As he prepares for the 2017 campaign, Perry said he has two immediate goals as he prepares to lead a team that is expected to return a pair of all-state players in defensive end Daniel Carson and linebacker Emori Thomas.
“One, I want to keep this coaching staff intact,” he said. “And two, I want to get the kids to buy into the football program like they did when Scorpio was the head coach. I’m a little bit older, and will have a different coaching style, but we all want the same results – success at William Chrisman High School.”
Perry said his mantra for the upcoming season will be simple.
“I’m all about faith, family – and by family, I mean your immediate family, your football family and your Chrisman family – academics and football. If you buy into all of these things, we’re going to have a lot of fun and hopefully continue to win football games.”