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Perkins brothers set tone for Francis Howell’s rugged defense this season

Justin Perkins (#8) and Ryan Perkins (#41) tackle Fort Zumwalt West ball carrier during the Vikings 34-3 victory Sept. 18 at Fort Zumwalt West High School.         (Mike Keithly/Kem Photography)

Justin Perkins (#8) and Ryan Perkins (#41) tackle Fort Zumwalt West ball carrier during the Vikings 34-3 victory Sept. 18 at Fort Zumwalt West High School. (Mike Keithly/Kem Photography)

If you are an opposing football team trying to score points against the Francis Howell defense this fall, good luck with that.

The Vikings defense has basically stifled every offense they have faced in the first three quarters of the 2015 season.

Through the first five games, Howell’s stop crew has given up a grand total of just 17 points.

“Offense gets all the credit and headlines in the paper for scoring touchdowns but our defense has been lights out for weeks now,” Francis Howell coach Bryan Koch said. “They love getting around the line of scrimmage and playing physical with our front seven.”

What is even more impressive is that Howell’s starting defense posted shutouts in each of the Vikings’ first three games and that group has only allowed a field goal in six games so far.

The other 27 points were scored late against reserves in Howell’s 49-14 win at GAC South rival Francis Howell North on Sept. 11 and the Vikings 28-13 win at Timberland on Sept. 25.

“Our front seven loves getting physical and our back four have been really solid, keeping things in front of them and not giving up big plays,” Koch said.

Along the defensive line, senior standout Dirion Hutchins (6-3, 225 pounds) lineman, and senior lineman Matthew McClellan has wreaked havoc on opposing backfields with 39 tackles and 37 tackles heading into early October.

Then there is the constant presence of bookend senior linebackers Justin Perkins (6-3, 230 pounds) and Ryan Perkins (6-3, 225 pounds).

That dynamic duo of brothers has given the Vikings a pair of contact-seeking tackling machines that few runners or receivers want to cross paths with at any time during a game.

Justin has racked up 61 tackles with three sacks, and Ryan has 61 stops and two sacks heading into the start of October.

“They can do a lot of things really well, can’t they,” Koch remarked. “It’s nice to have a 6-foot-3, 200-pound linebacker that runs plays like they do but it’s pretty special to have two of them. We’re really blessed and our four linebackers and are just unbelievable players.”

Ryan Perkins credits the disruptive physical play of the defensive line with allowing the linebackers to excel at making plays. “Our d-line is just tearing it up,” he said. “Our d-line’s taking on blocks and giving us room to work.

Justin pointed out that focus on each man doing their assignment well makes making plays possible series after series.

“Everyone just doing their jobs,” he said. “We have assignments – if everyone does their job, then it’s pretty easy out there.”

Koch, who has coached at Howell for seven seasons, said the success of the Vikings has always been based on having a hard-nosed, dominant defense each season and this group of defenders is among the top groups he has had.

“We are very blessed right now with some very special defensive players,” he said.

For the Perkins brothers and the Howell defense, the message to opponents the rest of the season is a pretty straightforward one.

“We’re going to come ready to play every single game and we’re going to be ready to play and we’re going to play our hardest every single down,” Ryan said.

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