All Suntarine "Get" Perkins heard from teammates as he intercepted Velma Jackson's Hail Mary attempt in the final seconds of last Friday night's game was "fall [down]." Perkins looked forward to the open field ahead of him and had something different in mind.
"I saw the ball in the air, so I jumped up and caught it," said Perkins. "My teammates told me to fall [down], but I knew I was going to take it too the house."
Perkins did. His game-ending 90-yard pick-six capped Raleigh's 28-21 win over the Falcons. Raleigh dramatically ended the regular season and locked down the third-seed spot in Region 6-3A.
“It was a huge win for us,” said Raleigh head football coach Chad Collums. “With some of the things that happened to us earlier in the season, beating Velma Jackson was big.
“We had a bunch of young guys out there - two eighth-graders on defense - and they all did a good job.”
Perkins, one of the young guys Collums spoke of, was a big help Friday night. The freshman star collected 14 total tackles - one for a loss - two interceptions totaling 107 yards, one pass breakup, and the one defensive touchdown.
And that wasn’t all. Perkins had 15 yards passing, and four catches for 60 yards on offense.
"[Perkins] has had a big year," said Collums. "Last Friday night, we asked more of him, and he delivered. The stats speak for themselves. He played a little bit of quarterback, running back and a little bit of receiver. Defensively, we played at linebacker and safety. He even punted the ball one time. He just had a good night all the way around."
Once again, that wasn’t all. On special teams, Perkins totaled 94 yards on two kickoff returns, setting the Lions up in great field position.
"One of the kickoffs, after Velma Jackson went up 21-6, they kicked off to him, and he returned it a long way," said Collums. "That sparked our team and was a big turning point for us."
Perkins is our Sports601 Powerade Player of the Week (Week 11) for the Jasper, Jones, Smith, and Wayne County coverage area.
Raleigh (5-5, 4-1), who had a tough go in non-district play, shocked not only Velma Jackson in 6-3A, but also Crystal Springs to get where they're at as playoffs begin this week.
"Our non-region schedule was stacked against us," said Collums. "We played teams like Taylorsville, Bay Springs, and Scott Central. But it got us ready for our region schedule and helped us know what to expect against good teams. Once we got to region play, we had things rolling in the right direction."
Collums and company, led by Perkins, will face Kemper County in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs. Kickoff is set for Friday at 7 p.m. in Raleigh.