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FOOTBALL IN HALL 2019: East Hall bringing in new leadership for run in Region 7-3A
East Hall
East Hall coach Michael Perry gives calls during a practice July 30 in Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers

For the second year in a row, East Hall began the season with a head coaching change, as the Vikings welcome former Gainesville offensive coordinator Michael Perry back to Hall County.

Perry brings optimism to a team that is not far removed from success but did suffer a down year in 2018, finishing up at 3-7 and failing to qualify for the Class 3A state playoffs. But Perry, who was quick to claim that making playoffs this year was East Hall’s biggest goal going into the season, is not prepared to let the Vikings’ down year become a trend. 

“There’s something that Tom Crean, the new Georgia basketball coach, says: ‘Competitiveness will always find a way. Convenience will always find an excuse,’” Perry said. “We’re not going to make any excuses at East Hall. It’s on us to get the job done.”

5 things to watch

Perry’s return to Hall County

Perry’s first head coaching job in his home county is still one he’s learning to get used to.

The longtime Gainesville assistant said the East Hall community has been as supportive as any he’s been a part of, mentioning there are members of the team’s touchdown club that “don’t even have kids on the team.” It’s been a wholly positive experience for Perry.  The chance to play against (and beat) coaches he’s familiar with from his Gainesville days makes the job even sweeter.

Even still, embracing the Vikings culture has at times been an adjustment for Perry.

“I was at a basketball game earlier this year, and hearing the East Hall chant when I had been at Gainesville for so long, it was kind of an eye-opening experience for me,” Perry said. “But I love it and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

Quarterback battle

As the one who worked with Deshaun Watson in high school, Perry has a bit of a history with developing quarterbacks. But before he can groom one to lead East Hall’s offense, Perry has to choose which one will be starting. 

Coming into the season, junior Luke England and sophomore Clete Cooper are currently vying for the role, a battle that will be interesting to watch as the season unfolds. Regardless of who claims the starting spot, however, Perry maintained his confidence in his offense’s chances of success.

“Either one of those guys can lead us to victory, and I feel good about them,” Perry said.  

Strong receiving corps

While East Hall’s quarterback situation remains influx, the players slotted to catch passes are much more solidified. 

“I think on offense, our receiver corps is really coming along nice,” Perry said.

The Vikings will turn to a pair of senior basketball players in Mon Prather and TJ Campbell as playmakers in a deep group of receivers that should be among the strengths of the team. 

Dylan Timms and Kaymani Leiro round out East Hall’s expected top contributors on a position group that Perry believes will be the strength of the team. 

“We’ve got a lot of guys at that position who can do something,” he said.

Clash of ex-teammates

Coaching against some of his old peers is one of the aspects of Perry’s return to Hall County that he’s looking forward to the most.

“I’m so excited to be playing against people you know, the rivalries, the quality coaching, very excited about it,” Perry said.

The team’s Week 1 matchup against Flowery Branch will carry particular weight for East Hall’s new coach. The game represents Perry’s first opportunity to go up against Bruce Miller — now working with quarterbacks at Flowery Branch — the former head coach at Gainesville and an old mentor of Perry’s during his time with the Red Elephants. 

“Coach Miller is over there (at Flowery Branch), so it’s going to be fun,” Perry said. “Can’t wait. Can’t get here soon enough.” 

Playoffs or bust

When asked what some of his primary goals are in his first year with East Hall, Perry was resolute about his expectations for the team. 

“Our biggest goal is to make the playoffs,” he said. “No doubt.”

Coming off a 3-7 season, the Vikings have a difficult road ahead of them if they want to meet Perry’s lofty standard, but his plan to earn a playoff berth is a simple one.

“To get to that point, we have to understand that every day at practice, we have to meet that certain standard, and that’s a battle we’ve got to face every day,” he said. “I don’t care what the weather’s like. I don’t care how tired you are or what you’ve got to go through. You have to be intentional and purposeful and get after it every single day. If we do that, we’ll be in the playoffs. If not, it’s on me.”

Schedule

Friday at Flowery Branch

Aug. 30 UNION COUNTY

Sept. 6 WOODLAND

Sept. 13 CHESTATEE

Sept. 27 GREATER ATLANTA*

Oct. 4 at Dawson County*

Oct. 11 FANNIN COUNTY*

Oct. 18 at Cherokee Bluff*

Nov. 1 at North Hall*

Nov. 8 LUMPKIN COUNTY*

*region games

Roster

1. Dylan Timms WR/CB Sr. 

3. Mon Prather WR/S Sr. 

4. Aaron Thomas ILB/WR Sr. 

5. Clete Cooper QB/SS So. 

6. Macere Walker RB/CB So. 

7. TJ Campbell WR/CB Sr.

8. Rock Lott WR Fr. 

10. Owen Murrow LB/WR Sr. 

11. Malik Vinson S/WR Jr. 

12. Kyle Hughes DE/WR Jr. 

13. Anthony Resendez WR/OLB Jr. 

14. Ethan Elder CB/WR Fr. 

15. Gibson Thompson S/WR Jr. 

16. Darius Holcomb CB So. 

17. Kaymani Leiro CB/WR Sr. 

18. Luke England QB/FS Jr.

20. Drew Highfield RB/FS Sr. 

21. Averen Samuels CB/WR Jr. 

22. Levi Howard LB/WR So. 

24. Javier Medina WR/SS

25. Joseph Allison RB Fr. 

26. Keyth Cantrell RB/LB Jr. 

27. Derrick Myers WR/CB So. 

29. Alex Rojas K So. 

33. Isiah McClary RB Fr. 

36. Cole Weaver Fr. 

40. Omar Perez WR Fr. 

42. Alivia Myers K So.

50. Jamarien Gaudlock T/G/DE Sr. 

51. Caleb Pruitt OL/LB Fr. 

54. Christian Solis OL So. 

57. Leo Arzate OL/DL Fr. 

58. Marcus Holmberg OL/DL Fr. 

59. Logan Howard MLB/OL Sr. 

62. Connor Thompkins OL/DL So. 

63. Zion Hill T/G/DE Sr.

64. Josh Ramos DL/OL Fr. 

70. Angel Oleguera OL/DL Fr. 

72. Israel Perez OL/DL Fr.

75. Raymound Grayble T So.

76. Chris Perez OL/DL Fr. 

77. Eric Osorio G/NG Jr. 

79. Jason Dailing OL/DL Fr. 

80. Andy Andrade WR/CB Fr. 

82. David Menchaca K/P

88. Cory Cox WR/LB Fr. 

Regional events