The William Chrisman High School football team learned about “Matt Perry time” Monday morning at the first official fall practice leading into the 2017 season that begins Aug. 18.
“You are now on Coach Perry time,” said Perry, the first-year head coach who took over when former head coach Scorpio Horn returned to his alma mater to be an assistant on the staff at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph.
“If practice begins at 6 a.m., I expect you here at at least 5:55,” Perry said, following a series of wind sprints that took its toll on many of the young Bears. “If you want to get here earlier, that’s fine. But I don’t want to see anyone walking down to the field for a 6 a.m. practice at 6 a.m.”
The players nodded in agreement with the former assistant who has the task of following up the greatest season in the history of the Bears' program.
“The 2017 William Chrisman football team is coming off one of the greatest seasons in school history but we feel we have unfinished business after losing to Fort Osage in two or our last three games,” said Perry, referring to the 2016 Bears’ 8-2 campaign – in which both losses came against the Indians.
The Bears not only lost twice to Fort Osage, they lost 90 percent of their offense with the graduation of Examiner Offensive Player of the Year James Bailey, who is now playing football at Western Illinois University.
“James Bailey and Coach Horn are gone,” Perry said, “but realistically those are the only big changes because we return the majority of a strong defense anchored by (all-state defensive end) Daniel Carson and (all-state linebacker/safety) Emori Thomas.
“Offensively we are bigger and more experienced up front, which will hopefully help new backfield starters (quarterback) Dawson Herl and (running back) Uriah Aleshire gain confidence as the season progresses.”
Perry experienced the opening-day disappointment shared by many area coaches as some players were not allowed to practice because they did not have physicals. That was one reason there were around 45 players at his first practice.
“That’s so frustrating,” he said, “because we have stressed the importance of getting that physical taken care of. Our first game is Aug. 18 and if a player doesn’t have 14 practices in, he’s going to miss the opener. However, it’s still July and I know that it’s early and that some parents don’t think about physicals in July.
“So we keep stressing the importance of getting those physicals taken care of. And when we have all our guys here, we hope to see our numbers grow. And I’m hoping to have around 80 players here once we really get going.”
While Perry is a new head coach, he was part of Horn’s staff last season.
“That makes the transition a lot easier for all of us,” said Herl, who suffered through an injury-plagued sophomore season backing up Bailey at quarterback. “He’s used to us, and we’re used to him and the other coaches. I thought we did some good things today in practice, but there is a lot of room for improvement for all of us.”
Surprisingly, the Bears were greeted with cooler than expected temperatures as many players started the morning in sweats.
“Yeah, that was a pleasant surprise,” said Perry, who has scheduled early morning and evening practices to beat what he thought would be the summer heat. “We got a lot done today and didn’t really have to worry about the heat. That was a big plus.”
It even sprinkled the final minutes of the practice.
“We got it here, it was the first day of practice, it was really cool and we were excited,” Herl said. “It was a great way to start our first practice of the season with Coach Perry.”