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When the Shelby County football team’s offensive line was ravaged by injuries earlier this season, Rockets Coach Todd Shipley went searching his roster for replacements.
“We were kind of looking around and said, ‘We need some linemen,’” Shipley said.
Jalyn Perry, a starting defensive tackle and senior quad-captain, volunteered his services.
“I told coach, ‘I’ll step up,’” Perry said.
Said Shipley: “Being a senior, and understanding our situation, he said, ‘Hey, I’ll do it.’”
That’s the type of team player Perry has been this season for the Rockets (6-4), who play at third-ranked John Hardin (9-2) at 7:30 tonight in Elizabethtown in the second round of the Class AAAAA playoffs.
“Jalyn’s really had to step up,” Shipley said. “He’s someone who has really grown as a kid into a young man.”
At 5 feet 8, 270 pounds, Perry was a sometimes starter as a freshman and has been a full-time starter since his sophomore season. He is playing his fourth year on the varsity and with his third jersey number.
He wore No. 70 his first three years of high school but retired that number last season in honor of former Shelby County assistant coach George Cottrell, who passed away last year. He started this season sporting 99 before having to change his jersey once again, this time to 65, when he started playing on the offensive line.
Perry doesn’t see as much time on the offensive line as he did earlier in the season now that the Rockets are healthier there, but he’s still the leader of Shelby’s D-line as well as one of the team’s emotional leaders.
“Jalyn’s a very fun-loving guy, but when it’s time to play, he loves to compete,” Shipley said. “Some times in practice, or a drill, we have to get on him, but when it’s time to scrimmage in practice, he’s coming.
“He hit [running back] Tyus [Ford] today [Wednesday], I said, ‘Holy cow, don’t hurt anybody.’ He just loves to compete.”
Perry, who has 24 tackles so far this season, is coming off one of his best outings. He had a season-high seven stops in Shelby County’s comeback victory over Jeffersontown last Friday night in the first round of the playoffs as the Rockets shut out the Chargers after intermission.
“We just played better up front,” Shipley said.
On the defensive front Perry forms an odd couple of sorts with fellow tackle, Garrett Perry, who is 6-3, 300 pounds.
“They’re like Mutt and Jeff,” Shipley said.
This season Perry has also teamed with his younger brother, Michael, a sophomore wide receiver/defensive back/punter in the starting lineup for the Rockets.
“It’s been fun, me and him get into it some times because he does stupid stuff, but when we get home we always squash it,” Perry said. “We help each other out.”
Perry isn’t sure what his plans are after graduation, but he knows tonight his role will be the same as it’s been all season long.
“Keep everybody focused and have everybody’s back,” he said.
And if one of his teammates goes down, don’t be surprised to see Perry step up.