It may not look like it, but Perry Meridian is among the most improved teams on the Southside.
Under fourth-year head coach Brett Cooper, the Falcons have a deceiving 2-4 record that includes three narrow losses by a combined 10 points.
This year’s seniors are in their fourth year with Cooper, a fact that is not lost on veteran Falcons outside linebacker Jacob McClure and linebacker-quarterback Zachary Huckaby. They were part of an 8-2 freshman team in Cooper’s first season at the varsity helm.
“We came into this season as seniors that we are going to out-tough our opponents, and that’s a big flip for the program,” Huckaby said during a break in practice last week. “I think the mindset is beneficial because it sets the tone for the players who come after us.”
McClure, who missed several games last year due to a foot injury, added, “We didn’t win a whole lot of games our sophomore year; by now I think we have really changed this program. It’s our job as seniors to leave our mark on the program, and I think we’ve already done a good job of that.”
At Greenwood, the Falcons fell with 17 seconds left on a 10-yard pass from Johnson County’s leading passer Brock Riddle to Amare Middleton. The TD capped a big Woodman comeback after trailing at the end of three quarters, 35-22.
Huckaby and McClure dislike losing those close games.
“It (losing) hurts, but we know it’s more of a battle because the wins were in our grasp,” McClure said. “It shows that we are there.”
Huckaby, who has a dual role as corner linebacker and quarterback on short yardage situations, remarked, “The wins were in our hands; we just had to finish. It’s a big change because our sophomore year we would put ourselves in a hole and we couldn’t get out. We know now that we can fight our way back.”
The Falcons firmly believe the dark years are behind them.
After losing their first 10 games in 2020, the Falcons downed Tech 35-0 in sectional before bowing out. In 2021, they finally won a home game by upending Mid-State foe Franklin, 21-19. Last year was a breakthrough season with a 4-7 record with three home triumphs.
Can the Falcons match last year’s wins with tough Mid-State foes Martinsville, Decatur Central, and Mooresville remaining? The Falcons are confident.
Expecting to recover soon from a strained knee, Huckaby attested, “We have a solid core that has been together. Our record doesn’t show it, but every team knows how hard we’re going to fight and prove ourselves.”
McClure said, “There’s a lot more accountability now for our actions. We’re holding each other accountable and that’s got us heading in the right direction. We’re playing football for each other.”
Greenwood bounced back after two consecutive Mid-State losses. Quarterback Brock Riddle returned to early-season form by throwing for three TDs and 298 yards. The Falcons tried to counter with running back Andy Warren with 29 carries for 218 yards and three TDs.
Both teams combined for 950 yards total offense in the homecoming shootout at Woodman Field.