Perry's third game of the season was all about inspiring confidence. It was a game full of firsts as the Bluejays met with the Nevada Cubs at home Friday, Sept. 13. The 34-23 score marked Perry's 0-3 start to the season, but it wasn't met without enthusiasm.
Bluejays head coach Matt Hardy said in the end, it taught him this team has grit and resiliency.
Looking at the stat sheet, the blue and white team playing Friday was not the team that had been shutout the first two weeks of the season. That's not just figurative. Perry is virtually a new team after the loss to ADM in Week 2.
Because of such a route from the Tigers, Hardy said the team was able to start implementing a new scheme “on the fly” in the second half against ADM. On Sunday, the team put in work to memorize the new hand signals within the no-huddle offense.
“It's an offense that we had run the previous handful of seasons,” Hardy said. “So there were some seniors that had a little bit of knowledge and we installed some basic stuff last week.”
Despite the difference in the final score, the change was a major success for the Bluejays. Against ADM, Perry struggled to get into positive yardage. In one single play, the Jays showed infinite improvement thanks to a 50 yard touchdown run from senior Wilber Ramirez to take a 16-14 lead in the second quarter. After the game, he said he expected a lot of the offensive line this week.
“You know, I had a great line. They blocked, they made a good hole. And then I just cut through,” Ramirez said. “I had a great block by Kato Dougan. And then I cut back in and then I just saw the hole and ran by.”
Ramirez's touchdown wasn't the first jolt of energy to radiate throughout Dewey Field. Just moments before, sophomore Emmanuel Soto ran through the Nevada offensive line for a safety. Before that, punter Cori Alamina pinned the Cubs at their own four-yard line. No series more emblematic, Hardy said all three phases worked together.
While the score came close to halftime, Nevada whittled the clock down to take a 22-16 lead at the break. That lead only grew by another touchdown at the start of the third period, leaving room for Perry to further prove itself as a new team and its fresh confidence.
Darting down the field 83 yards, wide receiver Kato Dougan was that proof as he walked in the end zone off Jacob Nelson's touch pass — his second touchdown of the game — to inch closer to the Cubs lead.
Adding to the excitement, Nevada fumbled on the next series at the end of the third quarter to give Perry its second turnover of the game, only to punt the ball right back.
While the score was held tight by the two 50+ yard touchdowns, they helped make up for the team's struggles advancing the chains. Perry had just three first downs all night. The bulk of Ramirez's 81 total yards came from his touchdown and the team had just three more runs over four yards on 18 attempts as the offensive line continues to go through growing pains.
“We're still playing with three sophomores up there and we shuffled the offensive line around this week,” Hardy said. “We had a new center this week, a new guard this week, new tackle. And you know, we're still learning.”
Ramirez echoed his coach's thoughts and said he took encouragement that “we take a step every week.”
With Perry coming as close as it had to a win since the season finale last year, Hardy said he saw his team tap into its potential.
“I thought the kids played with a lot of heart. I thought they had a lot of resilience. And you know, I liked the way our team is trending heading into the North Polk game.”
Perry travels Friday, Sept. 20 to North Polk looking to avenge last season's 8-6 loss.