Perryville football coach Blane Boss wasn’t sure what to expect before the season. All he knew was that he had to replace a lot of seniors. A total of 21 seniors graduated from the season before which meant that. There were a lot of positions to fill.
Perryville had to replace 21 out of a total 22 starting spots and Boss knew that wasn’t going to be easy.
“When you have to replace that many players it’s going to be all about growing every day,” Boss said. “I had to stay patient as a coach and realize that most of these guys didn’t have much varsity experience. For the most part I thought all the guys handled it pretty well. I think we were in almost every game this season.”
The Pirates suffered a loss their first game to De Soto 6-3, but after that they reeled off three straight wins over Potosi, St. James and Fredericktown to win three of their first four games.
“The start of the season I thought we played really well,” Boss said. “When you have a tough loss like that you never know how the kids are going to bounce back. I thought we did a tremendous job of shaking that off and going to St. James and they stepped up and made the most of the opportunity.”
Then in the middle of the season, the young and inexperienced team hit a bump in the road. Perryville lost four straight games including a game in week 5 to cross town rival St. Vincent.
“That’s one game that we wish we could have back,” Boss said. “Especially for the seniors. Looking back though St. Vincent is a good team. Garrett Dobbelare is probably the best quarterback we faced all season. Isaac Ernst is another player that really impressed me in that game. We have to do a better job of getting up for games and coming out with something to prove in those games. That game is their Super Bowl and we have to be able to match that intensity.”
The glowing factor behind the losing streak in Boss’ eyes was the offense.
During the losing streak Perryville scored no more than 14 points in any of the four games.”
“It took some time to get things going with the offense,” Boss said. “That was something that really was a focal point throughout the season. We kept putting the defense in bad spots with as many short drives that we had. The best game we had during that stretch was the Ste. Genevieve game and I felt that we left some points out on the field and the score didn’t tell the whole story of how that game played out.”
The Pirates bounced back with a victory over Sumner as they scored a season high 48 points in route to the victory.
“It’s always nice to get the win on homecoming,” Boss said. “That really helped us with the confidence going into districts.”
The Pirates were placed in the Class 3, District 1 tournament after years of being in Class 4. That change seemed to do them some good.
There the Pirates faced off again with Potosi and they fell 17-14 in a closely contested game.
“I think Class 3 is where we belong,” Boss said. “
Junior quarterback Drew Hotop led Perryville with 784 yards rushing out of the Option attack and 2 touchdowns. Seth Rousseau was second on the team with 246 yards rushing and one touchdown. Senior James Rhoden led the team in touchdowns with five and also contributed 197 yards on the ground.
In the passing game, Marcas Mahathath led the way with 15 catches for 184 yards and one touchdown.
Defensively linebacker Caleb Gremaud led the way with 106 tackles, while Eli Bierk was second with 60 total tackles. Rhoden was the leader in sacks with four on the season and added 59 tackles overall.
The Pirates will graduate 14 seniors some of which will be key losses on both sides of the ball.
“That’s a bad thing about being a new coach and coming in late for some of these seniors,” Boss said. “I was only able to have two years with most and them and they will definitely be missed. They put the work in during the offseason and were leaders both on and off the field.”
Perryville ended the season with a 4-6 record, and Boss believes that with a majority of the talent returning that the team can take a step forward next year.
“We have a majority of the offense and defense coming back and we have to want to get better,” Boss said. “The program has had so many losing seasons that losing is seen as ok. That is something that we have to change if we want to see this program turn around. We have to hate losing as much as we love winning.