Bluejays work to fill several open positions on the field

Libbie Randall - Sports
Perry football welcomes 16 seniors to take leadership roles among this year’s team. PHOTO COURTESY OF JON JAMISON/JAMISON STUDIOS

The Bluejay football program is starting over on many levels this fall as Matt Hardy takes over as the sole head coach upon Ben Coy’s absence. Perry has a new and improved environment to play at thanks to the recent renovations of Dewey Field and the team has an optimistic outlook moving forward with their season.

After losing a handful of seniors Coach Hardy has his work cut out for him in filling the various roles on the field. Although the talent level may vary among the team, Coach Hardy says the expectation when it comes to a player’s mindset will remain high and steady all season.

“You don’t have to be the most talented kid in the world to control your attitude,” Coach Hardy said. “One big expectation I have is that we are positive about everything that we do and that we do everything to the maximum of our ability.”

The players know what is expected of them when it comes to attitude and positivity, but the concern of filling several roles based upon skill set remains a minor concern for the Bluejays.

“We lost a couple of good receivers, our running back and our quarterback,” said Coach Hardy. “So as far as our (the Bluejays) experience in those positions at the varsity level, we are very raw there. We don’t have a ton of experience.”

Perry does not completely lack in that varsity experience however. With a handful of returning receivers, carriers, and the majority of the offensive line the Bluejays stick to that feeling of optimism.

“The guys that are looking to fill those starting spots have made the commitment to the weight room and have made the commitment to Sunday practices,” Coach Hardy said. “They (the players) have looked good in practice so I’m not overly concerned about our inexperience.”

Those returning to take on the role of the leaders include Conner Kenyon, Kaleb Olejniczak, Jared Narber, Mario Cruz, Devon Timmons, Justin Stammer, Alex Nunez, Xavier Craddock, Jace Johnson, Alex Morales, Rony Reyes, Cesar Ramirez, Kade Killmer, Carlos Calderon, Mike Echeverria, and Luke Holthorf.

Kenyon says being a senior means stepping up his game and helping to set the tone for the season.

“Our work ethic has been really important for this year,” Kenyon said. “They (the coaches) have really gotten on us (the team) about that. This summer we really focused on changing our culture and turning the team around for our senior year.”

Last season the Bluejays started their year with a win against North Polk 38-31, but quickly lost momentum before getting their second win a month later against Gilbert 31-27. Perry ended their season with two more wins against Greene County 17-14 and against Iowa Falls-Alden 62-13.

Although the Bluejays fell to Green County 14-6 in their home opener on Friday, Aug. 23, Coach Hardy and the rest of the coaching staff will continue to expect positive attitude, leadership, and optimism from the team.