Ellsworth Community College is located in Iowa Falls, but after Thursday morning it might become known as “Perry North.”
Five Bluejay gridders — Taviar Lucas, Marcus Meri, Joe Olvera, Solomon Pierce and Eli Saemisch — declared their intention to lace up the cleats for head coach Jesse Montalto’s team during a ceremony in the Brady Library at PHS. The Panthers started 1-5 last season, but ended with a six-game winning streak to finish 7-5.
The Perry quintet are keenly aware of battling through on-field struggles, as the Bluejays were 0-9 last year. Perhaps drawn closer by the experience, the five former Jays will remain a band of brothers of sorts this fall by continuing to play the sport they love.
Olvera led the Perry with 52.5 tackles, with three stops for a loss and one sack. He drew constant double-teams and earned the respect of the opposition enough that he was named a Class 3A Third Team All-State choice by the Iowa Newspaper Association panel of sportswriters — an almost unheard-of honor for a player from a winless squad.
Pierce was second on the team with 50.5 tackles, eight of them for loss. He had one sack and created constant pressure off the edge. He caught two passes for 17 yards, but both were athletic catches for touchdowns.
Meri averaged 11.7 yards per catch as a tight end, hauling in 12 passes for 140 yards.
Saemisch carried 88 times for 350 yards and had 50 yards on 10 receptions out of the backfield. His 45 stops were third for the defense. He tallied one sack and had four stops behind the line of scrimmage.
Lucas finished tied for eighth in Class 3A with 46 catches. He finished with 332 yards on those snares and scored three times while visiting the end zone once as a rusher after gaining 180 yards on 44 carries.