By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
For the first time in more than a decade Nixa will be under new leadership with Mississippi native John Perry taking over.
Perry comes to Christian County after a successful 17-year stint in Mississippi, including a 174-69 record and a state championship in 2017 at Pearl High School.
He inherits a roster that must replace six All-COC players and acclimate to a new system and expectations, all while dealing with a global pandemic that has limited some access.
Perry and family are excited to be at Nixa, but understand the challenges that come with taking over a program.
“God felt like it was time and led us to Nixa, we just listened,” said Perry. “The toughest challenge at a new school is getting everyone to have one heartbeat, chase one goal and have the same vision, as well as learn everyone’s names.”
Bringing in a new staff means that competition for spots all over the depth chart will come at a premium.
Among the biggest names returning is senior linebacker Riley Childs. He was an All-COC selection as a junior. He’ll be joined by others that have starting experience defensively in Clayton Uber, Steven Ward and John Gholson. Perry is also excited about what he’s seen from Corbin Speaks at defensive end.
Nixa will look to win the turnover and big play ratio.
“Defensively we will be multiple as well and try to aggressively stop the run,” said Perry.
On the offensive side of the ball, there aren’t as many returning starters, which isn’t a terrible thing as everyone must adjust to a more balanced system.
Reid Potts will be competing at quarterback, Matias Moreno will help anchor the offensive line and Ramone Green will be in the hunt to be the workhorse back. Smith Wheeler and Austin McCraken are two players at receivers that will be counted on to make plays in space. Kaleb James will also hold kicking duties while also playing soccer.
“Offensively we will be multiple and take what the defense gives us,” said Perry. “We want to be balanced and try to utilize the whole field.”
The same emphasis will exist for the offense, trying to find big plays and protect the football.
Perry may be new to the COC, but he understands the greatness of the league with a pair of returning state champions and a state runner-up. As he tries to implement his system, he’s hoping to build a foundation that will allow the Eagles to transition smoothly. Nixa hasn’t been above .500 since 2016 and hasn’t won a district championship since 2015.
“This is a very tough league with great coaches,” said Perry. “It’ll be challenging. We need to know our assignments and alignments at all times. We have to limit penalties and win the red zone battle, and of course, stay ahead of the chains.”
Nixa will kick off the John Perry Era and 2020 season on Aug. 28 at Branson. The Eagles will play their home opener on Sep. 4 against Joplin.