Perry plays through pain to help lead dominant Vols

Posted Thursday, Nov. 07, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Keaton Perry’s numbers are impressive on their own.

But to understand the value the senior quarterback brings to the Bowie football team one must first know what he’s gone through since his junior season.

The strong-armed passer has thrown for more than 1,200 yards and compiled 16 touchdown passes to lead the Volunteers to a 7-2 record and 5-1 mark in District 3-5A. Bowie, which has already clinched a playoff spot, could wrap up a district title with a victory Thursday against top rival Martin at Cravens Field. The Vols are tied with Lamar for first place, as Lamar gets set for Fort Worth Paschal.

“It’s my final season and we were kind of struggling at first,” Perry said. “We were playing almost in panic mode. We’re kind of getting everybody where they needed to be, and the offense has really been exploding.”

Just looking at Perry’s numbers, one would never know that, just like in 2012, a knee injury threatened to derail the signal-caller early in the season. He was sidelined the final eight games of his junior season. Perry underwent surgery, rehabbed his injury and returned to the field for his senior year – only to suffer another serious knee injury in the season’s second game.

Only this time, Perry wasn’t lost for the season. In playing through the pain, he’s been able to play a lead role – along with fellow QB Tony James – in getting the team rolling after a rocky start. Until an upset lost to Arlington High last week, the Vols had won seven straight. Bowie averaged 60 points per game during the streak.

Proud father

Perry’s father, Kenny Perry, who is now in his first season as director of high school relations at Texas Christian University, thought he was watching his son deal with a season-ending injury two years in a row. But the former Bowie coachwasn’t surprised when his son told him that this time he wanted to put off surgery and keep playing. And he’s likewise not surprised at the job his longtime defensive coordinator Danny De’Arman is doing as the Vols’ first-year head coach.

“I could use the word miraculous for what he’s doing and the team’s doing,” Kenny Perry said. “The credit goes to Danny and what he’s been able to do. And Keaton’s impressed me with how he’s handled himself and kept playing hard through the pain. ”

Then-sophomore Tony James moved to quarterback from receiver in 2012 and tried to use his athleticism to overcome inexperience. Now, said Keaton Perry, James is throwing and running with more accuracy and confidence than any quarterback he’s seen this season. The duo has split time at the position throughout the district season. Both have seen ample playing time. James has passed for 11 TDs and no interceptions and has also caught five touchdown passes from Keaton Perry.

“There’s no set plan about how much I’m going to play,” said Keaton Perry, who passed for five touchdowns in a recent victory against Sam Houston. “If I’m playing well, I might get to keep going. But at the same time, the coaches might still decide to put Tony in and keep the other team off-balance by giving them a different look.”

Playing with pain

Keaton Perry wears a brace and lacks the speed of James. But he’s deceptively mobile when eluding pressure. He admits he wasn’t sure how he’d fare on the field when he returned for the district opener against Weatherford after missing the season’s third game against Dallas Skyline.

“Practice went well that week, but until I played in a live game and took a hit or two, I didn’t know exactly how I’d do,” Keaton Perry said. “But I went out and played pretty well. I’ve just been trying to fit into the offense ever since.”

Now, he’s just trying to help lead Bowie to a deep playoff run. He had to watch last season as his teammates played a postseason game at Cowboys Stadium. That experience pained him more than an injury ever could.

“To think I’m that close to playing in that kind of game is pretty exciting,” he said.

Keaton said he’s focused on the team right now. But he will have to focus on himself at some point. He still faces the prospect of off-season knee surgery. And he isn’t sure whether he will continue to play football after high school. But if he does attempt to forge a college career, it wouldn’t shock his former coach – that is, his father.

“With Keaton, nothing surprises me,” Kenny Perry said. “It’s whatever he wants.”

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