Zebras quarterback runs offense, student council

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Anger management classes may have done Christian Perkins some good when he started playing football four years ago. He had a habit of chucking his helmet when a play did not go his way. No longer do his emotions get the best of him. Perkins’ composure at quarterback is one reason why Lincoln High School’s football team is 4-1. The Zebras get a break this week with a bye. Keeping his cool was among the many lessons Perkins learned when he started playing football in the eighth grade. He figured out that throwing his helmet in anger was going to cost him. The price was running two laps as he held his helmet above his head. It did not take long for Perkins to figure out that it would be better to keep his helmet on his head instead of tossing it. Perkins decided to save his right arm for throwing passes. The senior has not had many passing opportunities this season for the Zebras, who prefer to run opposing defenses into the ground. Last Friday’s game at Argonaut High in Jackson was the first in which Perkins threw for 100 or more yards. He was 5-of-6 for 117 yards and a touchdown in the Zebras’ 30-28 victory. The five completions were a season high for Perkins, who has yet to throw 10 passes in a game. The 117 yards more than doubled his previous best of 45 in the 41-35 loss to Yuba on Sept. 10. Perkins is performing to head coach Ken Lowe’s expectations, however, because Lowe is counting on the first-year starter to take command in the huddle and operate the offense efficiently. Lowe’s offensive strategy is based on deception and misdirection. Perkins can keep the opposing defense guessing by faking a handoff to one running back and giving the ball to another. “We want him to hide the ball,” Lowe said of Perkins, “and his deception is getting much better.” That deception is only possible because the Zebras have more than one running back who is a threat. Oscar Fernandez, Isaac Allen and Bobby Humiston give Perkins plenty of options. Fernandez is the leading rusher with 583 yards. Allen is second with 387 despite missing the first two games with a knee injury. Humiston has contributed 262 yards to the balanced attack. Being a leader in the huddle is not a challenge for Perkins, who is also the student body president. Perkins has found that he faces more scrutiny as a campus politician than as a quarterback. “I thought it would be a way to give back to the school, but people expect more out of me now,” he said. “If I do anything wrong at all, it’s a huge deal. I’m held accountable.” Perkins runs the student council as he does the offense by remaining calm, cool and collected. Yelling at his teammates may get his point across, but that is not always the best solution. “Some guys might take it positively, but some players could get down,” he said. “I try to keep their spirits up. I don’t want to bring them down by yelling because some guys will get flustered.” Lowe credits Perkins for keeping his emotions in check even when the offense is sputtering. “Some guys will shut down when a play doesn’t go right, but he doesn’t do that,” Lowe said. “He has to get control of the huddle because it’s important that his teammates listen to him.” When Perkins talks, his teammates – and classmates – listen.