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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Hitting Books, Ballcarriers

Perry carries 4.0 GPA and leads Chaminade in tackles at 14.6 per game.

November 13, 1998|MIKE BRESNAHAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

WEST HILLS — John Perry will never quoth thy Shakespeare after sacking thine quarterback.

But the man in the middle of the Chaminade High defense, the one who plays the "bull" linebacker position, is as adept at digesting Sophocles as he is chasing down ballcarriers.

"I'm good at interpreting literature," said Perry, who maintains a 4.0 grade-point average and is taking an English class called "Tragic Hero."

"I'm good at understanding what they're trying to get across," he said.

The only time Perry does not think is when the football is about to be snapped. Then he just reacts.

Perry, a senior, has 131 tackles in nine games, an average of 14.6 per game.

He has received the hit of the week award from Chaminade coaches five times, including the first three weeks of the season.

When he gets set at linebacker, he concentrates on "absolutely nothing," he said.

"I just key on the ball and follow whoever has it. If you just go out there and relax, your instincts will take over. We've practiced everything, so it's nothing new."

He is a wrecking ball on offense too, lining up at fullback and rarely carrying the ball. He has other duties instead.

"I just block," the 6-foot-1, 225-pounder said. "I just go in motion and kick the [defensive] guys out. It's fun."

Perry, who transferred to Chaminade from Crespi after his freshman year, remembers when playing football for the Eagles wasn't fun.

Chaminade was a combined 7-12-1 in his first two seasons.

This season, the Eagles are 5-4, 2-0 in the four-team San Fernando League and can clinch the league title with a victory over Harvard-Westlake tonight at Chaminade.

Perry, who wants to be a sports psychologist, sounds like he's already mastered the profession when he assesses what sparked Chaminade's turnaround.

"This year, we've learned how to get used to winning," he said. "You've got to believe in yourself. You're bound to be good if you believe in yourself. We've accepted the fact that we're a good team and that we can be great."

For Perry--and Chaminade--the playoffs basically begin tonight.

"It's something new to all of us," he said. "We've never been in this position [to win a league title], but I think we all like the idea of a playoff-game [atmosphere].

"If we lose, we won't think of it as the end of the world because we still have playoffs. But I think we all feel like we deserve it and it's all going to be ours."

Spoken like a true scholar.

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