The gridders in Perry’s Class of 2021 did not win a game as seventh graders. Or as eighth graders. In fact, they had not scored a single point.
That changed September 1. Nevada was a 49-13 victor, but the freshmen had finally made the scorebord move. September 8 the Bluejays looked up and saw something they had never seen: Perry 21, Ballard 18, and with no time remaining.
“The best part for us as coaches is the players gave their best effort the whole game,” frosh/soph coach Shannon Cline said. “That is all we (his is assisted by Mark Weber) asked before the game and they played that way.”
Ballard had scored on their first possession to grab a 6-0 lead, but Erick Funez broke loose on Perry’s first snap and sprinted 74 yards to pay dirt. Ever Tobar’s PAT boot gave the Bluejays a 7-6 lead.
The Bombers scored on their ensuing possession, then added another score late in the second quarter to enter the half with an 18-7 win.
A team with no experience of victory might have been expected to cave in and slink away, but a determined flock of Bluejays had a different idea.
Perry played Ballard to a scoreless third quarter, the cut into their deficit when Funez dashed in from 12 yards out. His two-point conversion run slashed the Ballard lead to 18-15.
Bluejay quarterback Keghan West found the end zone from two yards away late in the final frame, with Perry holding a 21-18 lead after the PAT kick was blocked.
Ballard tried to break Perry hearts, but an incomplete pass turned the ball over on downs and the hosts were able to run out the clock, setting off a wild, and deserved, celebration.
Funez was monstrous for the Jays, racking up 296 yards and scoring twice on 28 carries.
“Erick is a terrific back for us, and he was exhausted by the end of the game,” Cline said. “The offensive line did an incredible job of making holes for Erick to run through.”
Emmanuel Davis, Bryan Funez, Jose Guillen, Dalton Scott, Frannie Colin, Zach Darr, Taylor Majerus and Rylee Ray all spent time in the trenches, dominating the line of scrimmage for Perry.
The Jays played three quarterbacks, each of who tossed one incomplete pass. West had 12 yards and a TD on two carries, with Jordan Ochoa 1 (-1) and Konnor Eppert 1 (-5) also taking snaps.
Jacob Nelson had an interception to highlight the defensive effort.
“As a team we still need to improve our tackling as Ballard broke free too many times,” Cline said. “While our kick coverage has improved, it still isn’t good. Those will be two areas of focus this week.”