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Jackson Newspapers - Ripley, WV
  • Staying Connected: Matt Peery plays the game full-blast

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  • RAVENSWOOD - Matt Peery rode an emotional roller coaster through the 2013 football season, and came out a winner, inspiring everyone around him.
    Matt lost his mother, Pat, suddenly last fall, but chose to continue playing because he knew she would have wanted him to. Riding that emotion and dedicating his play to her memory as his biggest fan, Peery lifted his game to an even higher level and helped lead Coach Mick Price’s Devils over ranked Ritchie County for Homecoming and rival Ripley to a turnaround winning season and into the state AA playoffs.
    “After it happened, I came to realize that the best way I could connect to her was through football--something I love and something she loved to watch me play,” Peery said. “I figured the harder I played the prouder she’d be of me.”
    That bond and inspiration will continue in his senior season as a Red Devil. “Absolutely,” said Peery. “I know Senior Night will be rough, but I know she’ll be watching the whole time.”
    Perry said his family has always been close-knit, but the tragic, sudden loss of his mother brought them even closer.
    In what he says will be the final season of football, Perry will serve as a team captain as senior. “Growing up, I would always see the captains out at midfield pre-game,” he said. “It’s nice to know that your teammates have confidence in you and look to you to be a leader.”
    A fixture at linebacker on defense (82 tackles in 2013--second only to Connor Jelich), Peery said his offensive role has been as a “utility” player. “I’ve played line. I’ve played wing a little bit. I’ve played in the backfield. I’ve played where I was needed,” he said.
    Matt’s senior season looks to be more specific, though. “I’ll be at running back the majority of the time and as a fullback in the I-formation,” Perry said. “I’ll be lead blocker for Rhys (Jelich). They started using me as a lead blocker about the middle of last year. My speed helped on sweeps, getting lead blocks to spring him for touchdowns.”
    “I’d like to be the leading tackler on defense and a leading rusher along with Rhys,” he added. “He’s a heck of an athlete, and I’d like to be up there with him. I did a lot of running to stay in shape and prepare for this season. I picked my speed up a lot and gained some strength. I think all-around I can be a better player on both sides of the ball.”
    Page 2 of 2 - “This season is really special with the 100 years celebration and a lot of people coming back for Homecoming. We want to give back to our community who has done so much for us and supported us so much. Pt. Pleasant, St. Marys and Ripley are games we really want to win. We want to win every game, but I have those three circled on my calendar. And we’re looking to do some real damage in the playoffs this year.”
    Also a talent on the basketball court and baseball field, Perry plans to play all three sports to close out his senior year. Of the three, football is “absolutely” his favorite.
    Peery plans to attend Glenville State College and become a special education teacher.
    As his senior football eason prepares to open, you can bet Matt Peery will in the front seat of the 2014 Red Devil roller coaster with arms raised with a little extra motivation—ready to enjoy every hill and thrill to the fullest—one last time.

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