When it comes to being on a football field, there is no doubt what side of the ball Justice Perry prefers.
While being named Seymour’s defensive MVP last year, he led the Hoosier Hills Conference in tackles and was named HHC all-conference.
“I love defense,” he said. “You get to hit people and you don’t get into trouble for it on the field.”
Perry began his football career in middle school in Texas.
“Football is just about religious there,” he said. “The day I saw football tryouts on a billboard for a middle school showed up for team camp and the next thing…I got sucked in.”
He moved to Columbus his eighth grade year, then came to Seymour for the start of his junior year and is in his second season starting at inside linebacker for the Owls.
The Owls played a 4-3 defensive alignment his junior year, but the team changed to a 3-4 this fall.
“Gap-wise, we traded jobs off quite a bit,” he said of the 3-4. “Now we have two outside linebackers that help cover receivers and routes. I’m on the backside or the weak side. They try to put the faster people on the backside so we can chase stuff down from behind.
“I watch the running back and if it’s run-run-pass I’m near the running back, and I meet him at the line. I have to decide what angle I’m going to take to get to the ball carrier. If it’s a pass I drop back.”
Perry said opponent’s offenses “are mixed up every week. South Dearborn runs two tight ends and two wings and they’ll also split out to trips with no back. Bedford North Lawrence runs the option. It’s a lot of studying. If you pay attention to how many backs and how many receiver they’ll just about tell you if they’re going to run or pass.
“You look at film and look at their run-to-pass ratio. When (South Dearborn) runs the pistol, its 4-1, run to pass, so they’ll most likely run out of the pistol. They have one pass play out of that formation. They’ll run some screen passes.
Perry said another key to the type of play the opponent will run is to watch the offensive linemen.
This season, Perry’s playing weight is up to 178 pounds. He said the weight room has been a big help.
“I’ve gained 12 pounds,” Perry said. “I feel stronger. I’ve never felt better. I’m squatting 405 and benching 325, and my 40 time is down to 4.78. I’ve got to be bigger and stronger if I’ve got to tackle them head on.”
Perry says attending the camp this summer at Greencastle, and having workouts and practices during the summer definitely helps the program.
“It helps set the ground for us,” Perry said. “We don’t have to learn all the plays and come together as a team during the season.”
Perry wears No. 29, and he said he asked for that number after doing some checking on Michael Batts, the running back who helped the Owls reach the Class 4A state championship game in 1991
“Coach (Joe) Goodman and I talked about him a couple times, and how he stepped up and wanted the ball to win the game,” Perry said. “I saw his picture on the wall and I started asking about him, and I asked for 29. I want to keep the 29 going.”
He has high goals for this fall.
“The ultimate goal is the state championship, but I like to go little-by-little,” Perry said. “I like to start with the conference championship. This season I don’t want to lose a home game. I want to make sure teams know that, coming to Seymour is going to be tough.”
Perry feels he has grown as a leader.
“I try to build people up,” Perry said. “I don’t’ like to tear people down. Coach (Mike) Kelly said the best way to lead is by example so I like to be out front and help coach up the young guys on the little things.”
He enjoys attending SHS.
“I love it. Just the town itself is so welcoming,” Perry said. “I just really enjoy it. I love Coach Kelly. He’s taken good care of me. It’s my senior year and I’m trying to enjoy every minute of it.”
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Name: Justice Perry
School: Seymour High School
Parent: Miranda Whitmore
Siblings: Jackson, Jagger, Jizelle
Sports: football 4 years
Athletic highlights: 2017-led HHC in tackles, All-HHC honorable mention, SHS team defensive MVP
Plans after highs school: play college football, become a fireman and football coach
Favorite food: steak
Favorite TV show: That 70s Show
Favorite musician: Drake
Favorite movie: Friday Night Lights
Favorite athlete: Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers)