Hickman football coach Gregg Nesbitt calls his senior quarterback “blue collar.”
Andrew Perkins is not the fastest player on the Hickman football team. He’s probably not even in the top five.
But at the end of a cold, overcast Monday practice, it’s Perkins who finishes his sprints before anyone in his group. It’s Perkins who leads the jog from the track back to the locker room.
He won’t awe anyone with his speed or stature at 6 feet 1 inch tall and 190 pounds. Throwing four touchdowns and four interceptions this season won’t stand out in a scout’s statistical notes.
But he is nothing but impressive if he is measured the way Perkins would want to be evaluated: how his team has fared with him at the helm.
“I wouldn’t trade my guy for anybody,” Nesbitt said. “All he’s done for us is win.”
Since taking over for injured quarterback Blake Tekotte in the first game of last season, Perkins is a dazzling 17-2 as the Kewpies’ signal-caller.
Three of those wins came in last year’s playoffs. One brought the Kewpies their first state football championship since 1974.
“He’s a leader,” Rock Bridge football coach A.J. Ofodile said. “You know, he’s a guy that’s a defending state champ. He came in, in an adverse situation a year ago when nobody expected much of him and carried his team to a state championship.”
Perkins wasn’t an all-district player last year, like ten of his teammates. He saved his best performance for the state championship game, completing all but one of his eight passes and rushing for three touchdowns.
This season, he has furthered his reputation as a clutch performer.
“The thing that sticks out is he’s just got a knack... for coming up with the critical play at a critical time,” Nesbitt said. “He’s done it time and time again.”
Ask Perkins about his success, and he’s quick to attribute others.
“Really, it’s just the guys around me,” he said. “We’ve all been around each other for a while and we know what it feels like to win together. Not only that, our coaches really prepare us well... we don’t get caught up in the individual stuff. It’s more like a team effort.”
Perkins could brag about his toughness. In 19 games, Nesbitt can’t recall Perkins missing a snap because of an injury, despite tearing cartilage around his ribs on more than one occasion.
He could boast about upstaging his dad, older brother and older cousins, all former Kewpies.
But the closest Perkins comes to patting himself on the back is asserting that he’s more confident this year than he was a year ago, and has assumed more of a leadership role.
“(Winning a championship) gave me a lot of confidence to come back and take some of the new guys that came up as sophomores and kind of... lead them,” he said. “I had the opportunity to have some of the seniors from last year do that for me. I’d be really neat if I could do that for some of our juniors and sophomores.”
Perkins thinks it would be even greater if the Kewpies could beat Rock Bridge tonight. But not because it’s the Bruins.
“I just want everyone to kind of forget about the whole crosstown rivalry thing,” he said. “It’s a district game and we’ve got to win it to keep playing.”
That’s the mentality of a no-nonsense working man.
As Nesbitt said, “(He) brings his lunch pail and kind of goes to work.”