It wasn’t an accomplishment the players knew anything about. It certainly wasn’t one the head coach wanted to talk about.
But when St. James players gathered after a 43-6 win over Straughn to hear head coach Jimmy Perry, what they heard instead was a quick announcement from defensive coordinator Jeff Corley that Perry had just become the winningest coach in school history.
Perry’s response was exactly what you would expect from someone who has paced the sidelines for more than 40 years.
“I didn’t make one block, I didn’t make one tackle,” he told the players before giving them the credit.
Perry won his 73rd game in his 10th year at the school, improving to 73-34 and passing Robert Johnson, the current Montgomery Academy coach who was 72-41 in 10 years at the school (1997-2006).
“I ain’t never made a tackle here and never ran the ball or caught a ball or thrown a ball,” Perry said. “It’s all about these young-uns and these assistant coaches. It’s all about them. Always has been, always will be.”
Perry spent 10 years as an offensive coordinator under Spence McCracken at Robert E. Lee High on one of the most dominant programs in Alabama high school history, then took over as head coach in 1995 and led the Generals for five years, including a trip to the 6A state championship game in 1999.
At that point, he stepped down from high school football to work at Auburn University, first as director of high school relations, then as director of football operations from 2000-08 under Tommy Tuberville. After spending nearly 15 years as an assistant coach and nine more in the collegiate ranks, few would have given him a chance of becoming the winningest coach at a high school program.
“It’s just something you don’t think about,” Perry said. “You think about winning the next one and your players improving from week to week. If you do that, things take care of themselves somehow.”
That means taking care of region rival Straughn, which was dispatched in fairly quick fashion. The Trojans got touchdown runs of 19 and 1 yard from Cosner Harrison, a safety and a 20-yard Harrison reception from KJ Jackson to jump out to a 23-0 lead 16 minutes into the game.
Jackson added a 34-yard touchdown pass to Clint Houser just before halftime and a 35-yard touchdown run by Harrison on the second play after halftime to turn the game into a rout.
Straughn, which had just one first down to that point, picked up their only other one in the game on a 79-yard touchdown run by Aaron Olhava, who had 113 yards on 10 carries. (Straughn had just 109 total yards in the game).
St. James (4-1) improved to 3-0 in region play and 33-3 in region games over the last six years, a statistic that puts them in the running for the region title every year.
“I don’t know if it was the field or the conditions, but it wasn’t as crisp as I would have liked,” Perry said. “But you can’t argue with the result. They’ve got a good football team -- they’re young, like we were last year -- and when we had to tune it up and go right at them, we did and I was proud of that. I think it made us a little tougher tonight.”
Harrison finished with 236 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries, getting most of his work in the first half and leaving the game with 4:35 remaining in the third quarter.
“He runs like a bull,” Perry said. “He was sick most of the game.”
The junior finished with four touchdowns, including his only reception in the second quarter.
“Our linemen were opening up the holes,” Harrison said. “It was pretty easy to find. A lot of it was on the linemen. They did a great job tonight.”
Afterwards, the players celebrated homecoming and the opportunity to hand their head coach a milestone victory.
“That’s a good feeling to have,” Harrison said.