FOOTBALL

Khurtiss Perry dominates both sides of the ball, guides Park Crossing to win over Sidney Lanier

Nick Alvarez
Montgomery Advertiser
Park Crossing's Khurtiss Perry (44) pressures Lanier's Cordez Arrington (16) at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday October 1, 2020.

Khurtiss Perry would go on to have a memorable night, the type high school stars are known for, but first he had to change his cleats. 

The sophomore defensive lineman ran under the Cramton Bowl lights with red shoes instead of Park Crossing's team-standard white for the first play of Thursday night's game. In response, coach L.C. Cole ordered the 58th-best prospect in the nation, per 247Sports, off the field. Once Perry changed, though, he dominated.

The Deacon of Defense: 4-star Khurtiss Perry of Park Crossing has conquered that hill

He rushed Sidney Lanier's (2-4, 0-4) quarterback. He took handoffs out of a full-house formation. By the end of Park Crossing's 22-6 stomping of Lanier, Perry had impacted every facet of the contest, finishing with a rushing touchdown, two two-point conversions and handful of defensive pressures. The Thunderbirds have endured a tumultuous start to their season, on and off the field. But Park Crossing's (3-4, 2-2) star guided it to its first non-forfeit win of the season and first in Cole's tenure as head coach. 

"We hadn't won a game physically playing," Cole said. "This was a good one for me. Good win for our program." 

During the team's idle week, Park Crossing quarterback Jayvius Langford decided on surgery to fix an injured right knee, Cole said. It left a team without an identity scrambling. 

Cole remembered watching Perry play quarterback and tailback at Union Springs in eighth grade. He always told Perry that one day he'd hand him the ball during a game. A sloppy first half consisting of turnovers, failed trick plays and a 6-6 score led Cole to finally run Perry. 

Park Crossing coach L.C. Cole coaches against Lanier at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday October 1, 2020.

The Thunderbirds implemented a package with Perry and linebacker Joshua Rudolph as the primary ballcarriers. Yards came in chunks, and Perry broke tackles with ease. He charged in from the goal line to score the deciding touchdown in the third quarter. 

As Perry danced and celebrated, Cole yelled from the sideline and pointed toward the huddle. Perry would convert the two-point try and earn an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for his post-run shuffle.

"I grew up running the ball," Perry said. "... It took me back to the old days." 

Perry forced an intentional grounding that finalized the result on the next drive. Walking off the field, a player sneaked behind Cole and dropped a Gatorade cup of ice down his shirt. The coach squirmed and laughed. The issues that were apparent all season persisted, but the Thunderbirds led by Perry did enough to keep playoff hopes alive.