William Chrisman football first-year head coach Matthew Perry couldn’t have been more pleased with the his team’s showing in its three-team jamboree Friday.
The varsity defense dominated and the running game looked like a force to be reckoned with. Chrisman faced off against Class 3 powerhouses Center and state champion Maryville, scoring three touchdowns, including an interception return for a score, and only allowing one, which was yielded by the junior varsity squad at Independence All-School Stadium.
“I thought our kids did a great job coming out and executing,” Perry said. “I don’t think we had the fire we should have in the first jamboree. We are really learning. We have to come out hard from the beginning. We played well as a team.”
On defense, the Bears varsity team allowed a handful of first downs to both teams but didn’t allow either team to enter the red zone. Middle linebacker Bryan Cox recovered a fumble on Maryville’s opening play. Kelvyn Mason and Hunter Clark both made interceptions off Center quarterback Trevor Wilson.
“Our defense should be pretty strong. We have nine guys back and we were pretty good last year,” Perry said. “That group is expected to be good. They let me down a little bit earlier this week because our first team offense was giving them a hard time. But it’s great that we give each other a challenge in practice. I was proud of that group and they did what they are supposed to do.
“Kelvyn is an interception machine. I think he has 11 in his career and he’s only a junior. Our secondary has upped their game and that’s going to work hand in hand with our defensive line, which is pretty good.”
Mason said the defense is a confident group that can hang with most offenses.
“We practice hard and have a great senior in Daniel Carson to lead us,” Mason said of Division I recruit Daniel Carson, a defensive end.
Added junior linebacker and running back Christian Felix: “On defense, we stepped up, we woke up and we came ready to play.”
So did the running backs, who scored a combined two touchdowns Friday. Freshman Siaosi Naurer scored on an 18-yard run against the Maryville JV defense on a pitch and Felix powered inside for a 17-yard TD against Center’s varsity defense. All of Chrisman’s running backs had at least one run of 15 yards or more.
Felix is taking on a bigger role on offense and will serve as the team’s power back. Naurer, Bryan Cox and Uriah Alshire are all ball carriers who can use their speed to outrun opposing defenses on the edge.
“On offense we got a lot of talent with me powering on the inside,” Felix said. “They have me run on the outside, too, but I am more of a smash-mouth, run-inside guy. Last year I had my learning experience with James Bailey here. He was an awesome leader and I look up to him to this day.”
Perry credits a lot of that success to the offensive line led by David and Dominic Toese, which has several players with size.
“The running game all starts with those guys up front,” Perry said. “Those guys up front are starting to jell. They are starting to get it.”
Quarterback Dawson Herl saw his first action as the team’s starter Friday and completed 2 of 6 passes for 10 yards. Although, he struggled at times, Perry is confident Herl will get better as the season progresses.
“I think Dawson will be all right,” Perry said. “He needed to get into the action and we needed to see what he could do. I think he was a little bit nervous. He just has to let the game come to him. He has good guys around him and he just has to get it to the good guys.”