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Perkins breaking out for Gila Ridge
In the opening quarter of his first varsity football game, Gila Ridge sophomore receiver Dalon Perkins lined up on the right side.
As the Hawks' quarterback Scotty Nickerson took a five-step drop, Perkins sprinted past the defender down the field.
“I dropped back — the protection was awesome — and I looked over and he was about 5 to 10 yards past the corner so it was no question where I was going with the ball,” Nickerson remembered.
And just like that, Gila Ridge took its first lead of the season — thanks to the 40-yard touchdown connection between Nickerson and Perkins.
Being ahead on the scoreboard has become routine for the Hawks this season, with the Perkins being a big reason why. The Hawks are off to a 3-0 start coming into tonight's game at Brawley (1-1), and Perkins has become a major threat for Gila Ridge's passing game.
In his first game against Mohave, Perkins finished with four catches for 133 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 20-14 win. The following week, he hauled in seven catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns — as well as a rushing score — in a 41-6 beating of Yuma High. Last week, he added four more catches and two more touchdowns in a 49-7 win over Kofa.
Not bad for a sophomore.
“I worked really hard to get up to varsity but I didn't think I would be starting,” said the 5-foot-9, 125-pound Perkins.
“I knew he was a good athlete and worked really hard coming from last season into this season. I can't say I expected to have this much scoring, but I expected production from him. He's stepped it up a level,” Gila Ridge coach Jay Denton said.
A main benefactor of Perkins' emergence as a threat on the outside has been Nickerson. The senior quarterback threw for 155 yards — 133 of them to Perkins — in the win against Mohave and 160 yards against Yuma High.
“It's definitely nice. Our O-line has done a good job to give me time so I can find him open, and he's done a good job at getting open,” Nickerson said. “We were practicing all off-season, with the quarterbacks and wide receivers on timing.”
“I just try to outrun them and Scotty puts the ball right there and the line helps out,” Perkins said.
It's most likely a matter of time before word gets out about Gila Ridge's talented sophomore receiver. Eventually, teams will start to slide over help to cover Perkins. Nickerson doesn't seem worried for when that time comes.
“I haven't seen the teams we've been playing — they haven't adjusted to him. And if they do, we still have a lot other receivers who can get open and get the ball.”
But for the time being, Nickerson remains impressed with the sophomore's ability to run the short, possession routes as well as the deep, play-making routes. Now the senior quarterback hopes this is just the beginning for Perkins.
“I think now he expects a lot more out of himself. Coming in as a sophomore, I don't know how much he was expecting, but he's shown a lot of potential in the first three games.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at email@example.com or at 539-6881. Find him at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson