Joseph Perry

Lafayette center Joseph Perry is the leader of the Hornets' offensive line.

MAYO — Often overlooked, Lafayette center Joseph Perry fills a pivotal role in the Hornets’ offensive success.

That role includes communication with the offensive line in getting the team’s fast-paced offense on the go and getting the opposing defense worn down.

“He leads our line,” Hornet coach Mark Beach said. “I challenge him every week to get us lined up and help us play fast.”

The 7-0 Hornets have rushed for 1,462 yards, passed for 1,603 yards and average 33.6 points a game this season.

“Getting everybody on the offense lined up,” Perry said is the toughest part of his job, and admits, “We get tired.”

But Lafayette’s no-huddle offense also wears on opponents as the prolific numbers point out.

And a lot of that success starts up front.

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It starts with a player that was used to having the ball in his hand through middle school, where Perry played fullback. But with the Hornets’ spread offense not featuring many plays for a fullback, Beach and Perry collaborated on having the sophomore try playing center.

“It was a beautiful marriage, it worked because he was a great athlete,” Beach said. “He accepted the challenge. He can do it all, and he’s our scout team quarterback. Centers are very important, especially with what we run.”

After helping get the offense lined up, Perry said he considers his success and the success of the offensive line as a whole, simply “getting good blocks for quarterbacks and running backs.”

Beach, though, said Perry and his fellow linemen should get credit for all those points that the Hornets have been scoring.

“We score with them,” he said. “Jaxson (Beach) can’t score touchdowns, running backs can’t score touchdowns and receivers can’t catch passes,” without the line.

Perry said he likes the friendships he’s formed with teammates on the offensive line, calling the line, “The heart and soul of the team.”

He is also communicative with the rest of the team, and plays linebacker on defense.

At linebacker, which Perry describes as a “constant challenge,” he is mostly expected to stop the run. Against Branford he played about 12 plays on defense in the first half and the whole second half. The team doesn’t want to wear him out.

“When we’re in a situation when we need our best out there (on defense), he’ll be out there,” Beach said. “He’s getting double teamed and making tackles.”

In addition to anchoring the offensive line at center and pitching in on defense, Perry also lends his voice to the team’s cause.

“He’s the guy in the locker room who is always funny and cracking up with jokes, and I find it fitting for him to be the vocal leader on the football field,” Beach said. “He’s our most vocal leader. It’s been refreshing, it started in the Chiefland game; that was one of the games where he kind of came around.”

The Hornets, though, aren’t looking forward to the end of the season coming around.

Beach said that he’s known Perry since he was 4 years old, and that Jaxson Beach and Perry played little league together. Both are seniors.

“There’s going to be some tears this season,” Beach said, noting that Perry comes from an athletic family line. His father, Chan Perry, played major league baseball for 10 years, and his uncle played in the majors for nine years. His twin is Hornet receiver Adam Perry, another key player for the Hornets.

And while Perry is crucial to the LHS football team’s success, he also starts at catcher for the Hornet baseball team and that is where he hopes to follow, “a legacy before me. I want to got to college and play baseball.”

Jeff Shourds is a sports writer for the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press.

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