Perry regroups, rolls past McKinley

Mike Popovich
Updated: Saturday, October 17, 2015
Perry's Keishaun Sims runs the ball during the second quarter Friday night.  REPOSITORY MICHAEL S. BALASH <br /><div id="dfp-300x250" style="float:right;"><script type="text/javascript">googletag.display("dfp-300x250");</script></div>
Perry's Keishaun Sims runs the ball during the second quarter Friday night. REPOSITORY MICHAEL S. BALASH


PERRY TWP. Perry head coach Keith Wakefield didn’t know what to expect.

A sluggish week of practice followed last week’s loss at Lake. That was an ominous sign going into Friday’s game against McKinley.

“We stopped improving,” Wakefield said. “This week, I was really on them. I challenged them. That’s how I coach anyway.

“And we didn’t practice very well again.”

The Panthers were a different team on game night. They scored touchdowns on their first five possessions and rolled past the Bulldogs, 41-0.

Game Night: McKinley at Perry Highlights

Keishaun Sims rushed for 192 yards and four touchdowns, and Tevion Cleveland ran for 86 yards and two TDs for the Panthers (6-2, 3-1), who took over sole possession of second place in the Federal League. Perry’s defense also held McKinley to minus-8 yards rushing and just 91 total yards.

“I didn’t see that coming at all,” Wakefield said. “Maybe they took to heart what I was saying. That’s what a coach hopes. A coach hopes that the kids buy in to what he’s selling, but the leadership has to come from the players on the field. Good teams have field leadership.”

Perry was efficient in all areas against the Bulldogs. The Panthers rolled up 330 yards rushing, including 228 in the first half. They were 7-for-8 on third down. They scored on six of their nine possessions and never punted. One drive was a one-play knee to end the first half.

The Panthers took off after a bad snap on a Bulldogs punt gave them a first down at the McKinley 28. Perry’s first two possessions started in Bulldogs territory. Touchdown runs by Sims ended both drives.

“We regrouped and came out ready to play,” Sims said.

With the help of Perry’s big, talented offensive line, Sims and Cleveland have become explosive runners. They also make an impact on the other side of the ball.

A Cleveland interception in the second quarter ended a McKinley drive in Perry territory. A Sims interception near the goal line later in the quarter stopped the Bulldogs’ biggest threat. Sims returned it 63 yards.

“Those kids never rest,” Wakefield said. “Their effort is pretty nice.”

The shutout was the first for Perry since a 2009 season-opening victory over Columbus Linden McKinley. It came at the expense of a deep McKinley team that was averaging just over 31 points since being shut out by Akron Hoban in the season opener.

“We struggle at times when (receivers) are in space, but we got them down,” Sims said. “I was really pleased with our defense.”

The Panthers remain one game behind GlenOak in the race for first place in the Federal League. They will play at Jackson next week before hosting the Golden Eagles in a Week 10 showdown.

“This was a good win for us,” Wakefield said. “We fought back from a loss. Traditionally, our teams have done that, the ones that have bought in. ... I feel good about that.

“We have two more tough games, but I’m pleased with the way we played.”

Reach Mike at 330-580-8341 or mike.popovich@cantonrep.com.
On Twitter: @mpopovichREP