Kevin Smith is building relationships in first season as Perry’s head coach
Perry’s program has had several coaching changes but not a lot of success in recent seasons.
Kevin Smith is looking to change both as he tries to build stability and earn wins for the Panthers. The longtime assistant coach in Houston County makes his debut as the Panthers’ head coach Aug. 25 at Rutland.
He will be the Panthers’ fourth head coach in six seasons, and the program has gone 9-31 in the past four seasons.
“We’ve had a high attendance rate. They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do,” Smith said of his new players. “We’ve not had to go look them up this summer. They’ve been there. That’s always a good sign.
“Stability and building relationships with the kids, letting them know we’re there for them, other than just football. We do a lot of team building stuff, and we try to communicate with them on different levels.”
Stacey Harden left the Panthers after the 2012 season and was replaced by Erik Soliday, who went 4-16 in two seasons. Carl Dixon took over in 2015, and the Panthers were 5-15 in his two seasons.
“I’m very excited about Coach Smith. He’s a great coach, and the coaching staff is working hard,” defensive back JeCorey Burks. “A lot of intensity. He trusts us, and he believes in us a lot. It’s tough. We’ve got to fight through adversity, and we’ve faced a lot of adversity throughout this years.
“He’s gonna be here awhile, and this team is going to get better, and we’re going to make a big run.”
The Panthers return five starters on offense and defense, and Smith believes they’re off to a good start in the growth of the program. That started with building relationships with this year’s players.
“This bunch right here, they were easy to get to know,” Smith said. “They just sort of clinged to me when I got there. Some of them, it took longer than others, and there might be a few that we still haven’t quite broke that barrier with, but I feel like most of them, whatever we say, that’s what they’re going to do.
“We know there’s going to be some highs, and we know there’s going to be some lows, but the main thing is, I expect us to compete.”
Perry Panthers 2017
Head coach: Kevin Smith.
2016 record: 3-7.
Returning starters (offense/defense): 5/5.
Players to watch: Jay Watkins (WR); JeCorey Burks (DB); Keinijus King (RB/DB); Cameron Johnson (DL); Jamiti Harris (DL/OL); Antwan Fann (DL); Malik Mullins (WR); Tyrell Owens (RB); Davion Ross (WR/DB); Craven Malcom (LB).
Aug. 25 at Rutland
Sept. 8 at Peach County
Sept. 15 Harris County
Sept. 22 Veterans
Sept. 28 at Dougherty
Oct. 5 at Howard
Oct. 13 at Upson-Lee
Oct. 20 Spalding
Oct. 27 Mary Persons
Nov. 3 at West Laurens