Perez a ‘magic man’ in state title game

IHSA Class 8A Football

Maine South’s Matt Perez (32) breaks a tackle on his way to his third of five touchdowns during the IHSA Class 8A high school championship football game against Marist, Saturday, at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Bradley Leeb)

I am from the Chicago area, so when I was checking in on state title scores I came across more news on Matt Perez.

I figured it was worth the update.

To start, he eclipsed 2,000 yards on the season after sitting out the entire week’s practices due to injury, and his Maine South Hawks ended their second consecutive perfect season in Illinois’ largest class.

But most impressive were the numbers from the game: 27 carries for 316 yards and five touchdowns, and five receptions for 50 yards. The rushing yards and scores are new Class 8A title game records.

“He is magic,” Maine South offensive coordinator Charlie Bliss told the Sun-Times. “He is our magic man. He was hurt all week. The doctors said he looked like he got hit by a car and he just came out and played like that.”

Opposing coach Pat Dunne told the Sun-Times, “Matt Perez is by far, the best back I’ve seen.”

Perez finished the season with 208 carries for 2,246 yards and 34 touchdowns, and 35 catches for 441 yards and two touchdowns.


  1. Perez and Willis would be an awesome combo at IU, and he won’t be redshirted if he actually signs because of the lack of depth at RB…

  2. Don’t you just want to grab him and say ‘come to IU’ like Joe Paterno does in that Big Ten Network ad?

  3. I think that is hilarious with Joe Pa in that commercial….I truthfully hope paterno stays there till he wants to retire….definetly a good guy, even though he thinks that chappell runs the option really well.

  4. i think our offense has the chance to be A LOT better in the near future. EWB + WILLIS + PEREZ + DOSS/BELCHER/WILSON. plus lets not forget Kofi Hughes who is electric and would be perfect for the pistol.

    now our defense is another story. the black decommit really hurts.

  5. I think our defense will be fine. our secondary is already as bad as it gets. ANDRE KATES will be a great starting corner and MITCH EVANS will be just as good a safety as Polk or Thomas. MIDDLETON was worse than my grandma this year.

  6. It was great entertaining the idea of Perez being a Hoosier in the fall. Mid-February will bring once again that sickening feeling it has in the past with saying farewell to Finch, Gainer and Black. Anyone want to take a shot at where he will be playing next fall?

  7. Perez is good, but what IU needs is:
    1. linemen offensive and defensive.
    2. speed at linebacker and defensive back.
    Everyone knows this, but we get caught up with this type of story. I have seen Perez play 4 times, he’s good. Can he carry IU to the promise land, no. I’d trade Willis, Doss and Belcher, for an offensive tackle, a speed linebacker and a safety. Oh, and maybe a guard. It is close to Xmas, right?

  8. I think Jay makes some very valid points-especially the need for “speed” in key defensive positions…Not that I know anything about football.

  9. Yeah, i’m kinda wondering how we ended up with a verbal from this guy. Where were Ron Zook and Pat Fitzgerald when this guy was running circles around their home state? Brett Bielema has to be giving this guy a look too…for that matter, I’m guessing the whole Big Ten is looking at him. Schools in the south have to be giving a glance up here too.

    I’m not trying to be pessimistic on this one, but it’s hard to believe the whole college football world missed Perez or something…

  10. Higgi, don’t you know how it works? Because he signed with IU! If he signed with OSU he would automatically be bumped up to a 4-star. (That is exactly the reason people shouldn’t get caught up with these recruiting services and the “star” rankings.)

  11. I have followed Perez’s career since he and my son played on the same soccer team as 8 and 9 year olds. He will be recruited by the other Big Ten Schools but I will be shocked if he decommits. He is not the kind of kid who takes something like a commitment lightly. There is no more dedicated athlete and teammate than this kid. He has become somewhat of a legend up here over the past two years and before too long we will be very glad that we have him when he gets to IU.

  12. For those who have watched this kid play multiple times. What is the rest of his team like? How good are his lineman? How good are the receivers at picking up down field blocks?

    This kids numbers for yardage, yards per carry, etc. are just unreal. Watching what little video I have seen of him, I see a kid who looks like a hard nosed runner, that reads his blocks very well.

    What I don’t see is that explosiveness. I don’t see him out running Big Ten defensive backs and safeties like Willis or red shirt freshman Nick Turner can/will.

    Anyone have anymore insights as to the rest of the offense he plays on?


  13. Mike,

    1. He is not blazing fast, he has excellent field vision. Probably a better between the tackles runner, if he can withstand the beating he’ll take.
    2. The line was very well coached, not big by some standards they probably averaged 225 or so.
    3. Receivers were good at blocking and Perez used them well.
    4. He made more long runs last year because they had a qb (Charlie Goro), now at Vanderbilt, who could wing it and run a little.
    Not bad mouthing Perez, he is a good football player. Perhaps he could play srong safety, not corner, or weak side linebacker. He is very strong. Not a savior, which is what some people seem to crave. He’ll play four years and give a good accounting of himself.

  14. Jay,

    Thanks. From what little video I have seen on him, you confirmed my first thoughts that he was a smart back that used is blockers very well and can gut out yardage but not an explosive break away style back.

    I don’t know enough about him to be excited or cautious.

  15. I disagree with the assessment. This kid is an electric and dynamic runner. He has 4.5 speed and my guess he will work to get even faster. It takes multiple tacklers to bring him down, he cuts on a dime and he runs away from people. He was the best running back in Illinois in 2008 and got much better in 2009. Maine South plays against very good competition and won the championship in the biggest class in Illinois two years in a row and Perez was a major factor in both championships.

  16. love the thought of this guy at weakside linebacker as a true freshman if he puts on 20 pounds – think we’ll have plenty of depth at the running back position next fall…unfortunately, i think he committed to iu bc we offered him the job to compete at running back. like it’s been said, we need speed at the linebacking position, esp. weakside (don’t know if anyone noticed how many times purdue had as their first read to get it to their running back on the flair route and just make will patterson miss). Maybe, as a sophomore, we get more depth at linebacker, he could move back to the running back position.

  17. IU should run the spread offense with the designed cut backs. It just works so well…and will for Darius Willis too. Those two are going to be THUNDER AND LIGHTNING FOR IU. But out of the spread…only 6 or 7 in the box. Now…Maine South is a spread offense…nationally known for PASSING. Matt Perez played Ace back in this offense. So…they have had some good ones, but not really known for running backs. More offensive linemen and QB’s…Linebackers…etc. He was under the radar and only rated TWO STARS for several reasons. He is only 5 foot 11…and they rated HIS MOVES BELOW AVERAGE. ANYONE THAT HAS SEEN HIM PLAY…ESPECIALLY THE LAST MONTH CAN TELL YOU THAT IS CRAP. Matt Perez cutback moves and improvement has been astonishing to see on TV or in person. FIVE STAR PLAYER IN MY BOOK. He was the best high school running back I have ever seen. Now…ESPNU, RIVALS AND SCOUTS, INC. recruiting services all showed me a THOUGHTLESS AND CARELESS EFFORT when it came to Matt Perez.
    Other backs might be rated higher as they are faster and taller…and rack up huge numbers playing against weak teams…who knows?

    Matt Perez honestly runs like Walter Payton…just reckless abandon…he will run over people rather than around them…but he can easily DO BOTH. If Perez had waited longer…who knows who would have came looking. His offensive line was AWESOME…GIGANTIC HOLES IN THE FINALS GAME. He had a great line…but besides Victor Nelson…not a huge line, but they worked well for him.

    However…when you guys see him run the ball…you will see sometimes he needs blocks…sometimes…he will do it all on his own. Mark my words…IU fans will love Matt Perez upon his very first broken tackle. It is not how fast or strong he is…but the most amazing thing is HOW HE ESCAPES…THAT IS WHAT IU FANS WILL LOVE THE MOST. I had a blast watching Matt Perez improve over the last 2 seasons. IU fans will seriously look forward to seeing Matt Perez play every Saturday for the next 4 years. I have no doubt in my mind he will make an immediate impact. His instinct, power, balance, and speed are amazing to watch. Just natural at things, but you can tell he took those reviews to heart…and worked even harder on his moves. He is a faster version of Walter Payton.

    In fact…I BET…ANTHONY THOMPSON IS GOING TO LOVE TO SEE HOW MATT PEREZ POUNDS THE ROCK. HE DEFINITELY RUNS LIKE A.T. TOTAL HEART AND DESIRE. THIS KID WILL MAKE IU FANS GO NUTS…HE NEVER STOPS DRIVING…RUNS WITH A VIOLENT RECKLESS ABANDON…THAT I HAVE NOT SEEN SINCE WALTER PAYTON. IT IS LIKE THAT…A BLAST TO WATCH. THIS YEAR WAS LIKE WATCHING WALTER PAYTON IN 1979. In my opinion…he was Big Ten ready as A JUNIOR. Right now…IU has a player that has improved by leaps and bounds…who in the last month has been on a whole new level I am not sure even Matt Perez knew he would reach…or fully understands yet. AMAZING…and just has he has become the nation’s best running back…he heads to IU. Not a prayer there are 136 better running backs in the nation. NO WAY. You will agree upon his first broken tackle at IU. HE SHOULD BE NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR. PERIOD. NO BIG SHOT RECRUIT RB RAN FOR OVER 300 YARDS LAST WEEK.

  18. Oh…one last thing: Since IU has sent both offensive and defensive coaches to see Matt Perez play this season, I will stick my neck out. I do not rule out the slim possibility that one day Matt Perez can SERIOUSLY be a 2-Way starter at IU. He is very good on defense too, and he can definitely help on that side of the ball. I would LOVE to see IU do that…& I think he can honestly do it. It may sound crazy…but desperate times (1-7 in the Big Ten), call for desperate measures. He can add speed and depth to our linebackers or safeties. On offense..Perez may break in with limited carries to compliment Darius Willis…and punt or kickoff returns. He will get more carries after he breaks free for the first time. Running back will always be the position that Perez helps IU the most. You’ll see why IU fans!! Trust me on this. I would not be surprised if IU used Matt Perez on both sides of the ball…and it honestly makes sense. He did it all year long, Perez…had not one problem making a sack on defense…and breaking a 60 yard run on a punt return…only 60 seconds later.

Comments are closed.