DOVER — When Strawberry Crest junior starting quarterback Tristan Hyde suffered a season-ending injury during the third game of the season, the Chargers had to alter their approach as a pass-first offense.
Though Strawberry Crest is still successful in the passing game with backup Austin Carswell, Strawberry Crest isn’t a one-trick pony this season. Senior running back Chris Perez has made sure of that.
The 5-foot-9, 195-pound back has given the Chargers (5-2) a balanced offensive attack with his 544 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. With three games remaining in the regular season, Perez is on pace to surpass his total from last season (649, 11 touchdowns).
“Last year, we were a predominately passing team, but he still had a solid season even though we threw for almost 2,300 yards,” second-year Chargers coach John Kelly said. “This year, with the quarterback situation, we had to be more balanced and he stepped up.”
Kelly will be depending on Perez tonight against East Bay in a pivotal Class 7A-District 8 game. Kelly is hoping to use Perez to counter East Bay’s run-heavy offense.
“You can also control the clock yourself,” he said.
Perez is averaging 5.3 yards per carry and 90 yards per game. He posted a season-best 141 yards and two touchdowns in a win against Brandon.
Perez is confident there’s always an opportunity to break long runs.
“After the first series or so, you have to believe that they can’t stop you,” Perez said.
In last year’s 29-14 win against East Bay, Perez led the Chargers with 137 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
“I use my power,” said Perez, who can squat 450 pounds. “But I try to look for holes and hit it.”
Local players named Blue-Grey All-Americans: Jefferson quarterback Deiondre Porter, Chamberlain linebacker Anthony Davis, Tampa Catholic receiver Justin Motlow and senior linebacker Tre Watson, and Northeast running back Keith Harrington have accepted invitations to play in the Blue-Grey All-American Game on Jan. 11 at Raymond James Stadium.
The game will be broadcast live on Fox Sports.
Davis will receive his All-American jersey tonight.
Some of the top players in the nation also have committed to play in the game, including Penn State commitment and defensive back Troy Vincent Jr. from Maryland, Arizona commitment and three-star quarterback Brandon Dawkins from California, quarterback Alin Edouard, a three-star Miami commitment from Hialeah High, and Christian McCaffrey, son of former NFL player Ed McCaffrey, a running back from Colorado who is verbally committed to Stanford.