Matthew Perkins excelling in kick returning role for MRA

The junior has three kick return touchdowns in five games in his first season in the role for the Patriots
Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 10:03 PM CDT
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MADISON, Miss. (WLBT) - Speed: it’s what got Matthew Perkins the role of returning punts and kicks for his junior season at MRA. Perkins is a sprinter for the Patriot track team and has a sub-11 second 100 meter time.

“Him and [sophomore Gunnar Swanson], they’re two of our fast guys, we just try to put those guys back there so we can get a crease and they can go to the house,” said MRA head coach Herbert Davis.

The decision to have Perkins back to return kicks paid off in the second game of the Patriots’ season. On the opening kick-off against Magnolia Heights, a low, bouncing kick rolled into Perkins’ arms.

With blockers taking care of the middle of the field, Perkins had one man to beat to the home sideline. He used his speed to get to the outside, and no one touched him as he sprinted to the end zone for an early six points.

One week later, Perkins did it again.

Fielding the ball on the visitor sideline, Perkins cut across the field. After getting a block from his fellow return man Swanson, Perkins was once again untouched as he raced for the touchdown.

Perkins has had two other scores that have gone all the way, one of which was neutralized due to a penalty (perhaps his most impressive return performance).

“I want to give thanks to my teammates that are blocking for me,” Perkins said when asked about his success in the return game. “They’re the ones that are turning around, blocking people at full speed. I wouldn’t be able to have any success at all without them.”

Perkins credits his speed and ability to read his blockers as his biggest strengths.

“After about one or two blocks, once I see open field, I just hit another gear, I just try to cover as much ground as I can,” he said.

This is Perkins’ first year returning kicks for the Patriots, and it seems to be working so far.

“I was a little nervous, because this is something I’ve never done, but throughout the summer, and now I’ve practiced it and gotten some confidence being able to, and also trusting my teammates, knowing they’ll do their job,” Perkins said.

Perkins and the Patriots have a bye week this week, but have six more games left in the regular season for more return touchdowns to come.

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