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Hart's John Perkins: Time to finish the mission

Senior John Perkins hopes two years of work will pay off this year

Posted: August 28, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 28, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Hart senior lineman John Perkins was an All-Santa Clarita Valley first-team player on offense last year. He's one of the team's four returning starters on the offensive line.

In three years with the Hart football program, John Perkins has seen a lot.

After getting his first taste of varsity football late in the 2009 season, Perkins has been with Hart teams which have been knocked out in the first round of the playoffs in 2009, missed the playoffs in 2010 and made it to the second round of the playoffs last season.

One thing the senior lineman hasn’t seen is a Foothill League title — and he wants it bad.

“It being my last year and I know all these (new) guys, we all want to win something this year,” Perkins says.
Yes, they want to win something. In other words, the team might not stop at a league title.

According to the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division preseason poll, the Indians are the top-ranked team in the division and therefore early favorites to win a CIF championship.

A player like Perkins wouldn’t go out of his way to tout such lofty expectations, but he’ll do anything to live up to them.

Perkins is the starting left guard and one of the anchors of an offensive line that returns four players this year, and the group took it upon themselves to hit the weight room and perform at peak level during summer lineman camps.

“He really is hard on himself to play at the highest level he can play,” says Hart head coach Mike Herrington of Perkins. “He’s his own worst critic.”

Like a few others on the line, Perkins starts on both sides of the ball.

In addition to aiding a rushing attack that compiled 2,297 yards on the ground last season, he earned All-Santa Clarita Valley first-team offensive honors was also one of the strongest pieces of the defensive line.

He finished with 31 tackles and a team-high four sacks as a defensive tackle in 2011.

It’s not all that surprising Perkins would excel defensively since he was the captain of the defense for his freshman team at Hart as the starting middle linebacker.

Though he was moved up to the line after that due to his size, Herrington said he noticed early how athletic and mobile Perkins was.

“He could probably be the best offensive lineman or the best defensive lineman in the San Fernando Valley if he just played one way,” Herrington says, “but he’s played both ways the last two years, and as an all-around lineman, he’s probably one of the best around.”

Playing on both sides of the ball is something Perkins has always done in football, and he’s happy to.

“You can tell that he’s been playing for three years and he has something about him where he’s just smarter and he just knows how to react,” says Hart junior quarterback Connor Wingenroth.

He’s the consummate teammate and veteran on the team and seems to always know the right things to say at the right time, teammates say.

If players are losing focus, Perkins will give them an ear full. If they’re struggling to battle hot, summer heat, Perkins will joke around and lighten the mood.

Football brings out the best in Perkins’ personality. He’s loved the game ever since convincing his mom to let him play in seventh grade.

For the first few years at the youth level, it was a little rocky for Perkins, who earned the nickname “grandpa” because of his seemingly endless string of injuries.

But as he’s grown bigger — to 6-feet, 260 pounds — and stronger, the injuries have faded and the accolades have started to flood in.

Accolades are one thing, league titles and CIF championships are another. And Perkins will make any necessary sacrifice to get there.

“It’s whatever the team needs,” Perkins says. “If the team needs me at wide receiver, which I highly doubt, but I’ll play wide receiver.”

For now, Hart needs him in the trenches, where he’s happy to oblige.



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