Upson-Lee senior running back Sontrell Perry is off to a great start five games deep into the 2013 high school football season. The smallish scatback leads the Knights in rushing with 562 yards on 56 carries for a 10.0 average per tote. He has also scored five touchdowns, with four of them coming from 20+ yards out. He has established himself as the Knights’ most effective long-range threat, while also showing that he can be effective when called on to run between the tackles.
Sontrell’s success should come as no surprise to local football fans who have followed local high schools for the past 30-plus years. The Perry family has provided some of the most successful football players for local fans to enjoy watching since 1981 when the first Perry showed up in an R.E. Lee uniform. Five Perrys have represented R.E. Lee Institute and Upson-Lee High School and all have been running backs.
Curtis Perry was the first of the Perry clan to perform on Matthews Field. Curtis was a three-year letterman at R.E Lee from 1981-83. When he graduated from Lee he was the school’s leading career rusher with 3,733 yards on 533 carries for a 7-yard average per rush. He was also the Rebels’ top scorer with 354 points, leading in touchdowns scored with 58. He led Lee in rushing in 1982 and 1983 and had a single-game high of 253 yards gained against Jackson in 1982. He was a AA All-State performer in both 1982 and 1983 and received a football scholarship to Florida A&M University. He was inducted into the Thomaston-Upson Sports hall of Fame in 2008.
Next in line was Andy Perry who was a three-year starter and letterman from 1983-85. He is Curtis’ brother and led the Rebels in rushing in 1984. He led Lee in scoring in 1985 and also saw action as a starter in the Rebels’ secondary during his career.
Curtis and Andy’s brother, Tim Perry, was the next Perry in the line of succession. Tim was a four-year letterman for the Rebels from 1985-1988 and led Lee in rushing in 1986 and 1988. His 3,681 career rushing yards left him second to brother Curtis in Lee history when he graduated. Tim’s best single-game effort was a 243-yard performance against Fitzgerald in a 1987 playoff game. He finished his career as the Rebels’ leader in career rushes with 653. He was a starter for the 1988 Rebels squad that went undefeated and won the AA State Championship. He was named to the AA All-State as well as the All-Classification All-State team in 1988. He played in the annual Georgia All-Star game where he scored a touchdown and was named the Most Valuable Player.
Then came nephew Tyrone Perry, who lettered at R.E. Lee in Lee’s last year of football in 1991 and then went on to be a starter and letterman on Upson-Lee’s first three football teams in 1992, 1993, and 1994. He was the first 1000+ yard rusher in Knights’ history as he picked up 1006 yards in 1992 and 1553 yards in 1993. He fought off injuries in his senior season but still gained 813 yards. This talented runner still ranks as the third leading career rusher at Upson-Lee with 3,372 yards. He earned honorable-mention on the AA All-State team in both 1993 and 1994.
Now after a long break between Perrys, Sontrell, who is Tyrone’s son, falls right in line with his predecessors.
2013 has been his “breakout” year and his “waterbug” runs, dreadlocks flowing, have brought an exciting aspect to the Knights’ offense. Fans have come to anticipate a long run, or even a touchdown, every time he touches the ball.
I have had the distinct privilege to watch every one of the Perrys perform and have been the stat keeper who recorded their performances on Matthews Field and other playing fields since 1981. Their styles have been different but the results have been very much the same. All of these guys could “play,” if you know what I mean!
One unique item is that four of the five Perrys have worn uniform #37. The only one to wear another number was Andy who wore #29 and maybe that is because Curtis already had #37 when Andy came along in 1983.
When looking back over the Perrys’ history on the local gridiron I find the following: in 16+ seasons they have rushed for a total of 13,226 yard on 2,173 carries for an average of 6.1 yards every time they carry the ball. WOW! That’s some stat! Between them they have six seasons of over 1,000 yards rushing with Tyrone’s 1,553 yard effort in 1993 edging Tim’s 1,538 yard total in 1988 for the highest total. The group has also scored 166 touchdowns.
The reason that I said 16+ seasons is that Sontrell still has some time left in the 2013 season to add to the Perrys’ family totals. With the way he is playing, he could be the fourth Perry to top the 1,000 yard mark in a season.
The Perry family has given us many thrills on the gridiron and they have done it with style. I don’t know of any other local family that can top their totals. I, for one, have great memories of their many exploits.
My question now is, “Where is the next Perry?”
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