Perry looks for Julian Walker to lead young team back to postseason

Friday, August 25, 2023 | 1:16 AM

After consecutive seasons of missing the City League playoffs, the Perry Traditional Academy football team clinched a playoff berth in 2022. This season, the Commodores are looking to take the next step in year two under Stephen Hale.

For the Commodores to sustain that success throughout the impending campaign, they will face some growing pains after losing 15 seniors and ushering in a young wave of players.

Despite some inexperience, the Commodores will feed off the expertise and ability of starting running back Julian Walker (5-9, 195) after putting together a solid campaign during his junior season.

Walker became the go-to weapon for Perry as he accumulated 821 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. The senior will once again be a key contributor for the Commodores and will look to emerge as one of the top rushers in Western Pennsylvania.

“Expect big things out of him,” Hale said. “He’s been a workout warrior over the past couple of years. He’s a physical and smart running back.”

In front of Walker, the Commodores will face some challenges with a young offensive line that will be anchored by senior Alvin Johnson (6-4, 295). Walker will need to put in some extra effort throughout the season in order to build off of his impressive season a year ago.

“With our line being young like that, he’s going to have to make a lot of guys miss,” Hale said. “He’s elusive yet powerful, which is a good combination to have because he can give us a little finesse if need be, and he can also give us power and get those dirty yards.”

While the Commodores are thin on the line, they have added depth at the skill positions with some being as much as three deep.

Senior wide receiver Taymir Smalls will be one of the primary factors in the receiving game as Hale expects him to have an explosive season.

One position that has a question mark lingering is quarterback. Ahmad Arrington will be back as the starting signal caller, but the senior is sidelined with an injury, which opens up an opportunity for sophomore Santonio Barnett.

Once healthy, Hale expects Arrington to be a vital piece to Perry’s offense and one of the top players in the City.

“He brings an athletic ability that’s unmatched in the city,” Hale said. “He brings leadership qualities, and he’s a dynamic athlete.”

With the pieces in place to take another shot at a City League postseason berth, Hale hopes for the Commodores focus on some areas of need, including the inexperience, which will be highlighted in their first two nonconference matchups against Trinity and Wheeling Central Catholic

“It’s going to be rough because it’s a young group, so these first two games we are going to need to find our niche.”

Hale expects to be competitive yet again in hopes of dethroning the reigning City League champion, Westinghouse.

“We are going to be in every game,” he said. “I expect us to be in every game and be able to win whether we pull it out last minute or we go out and dominate from start to finish.”


Coach: Stephen Hale

2022 record: 3-5, 1-3

All-time record: 466-364-48


Date, Opponent, Time

8.25, at Trinity, 7

9.1, at Wheeling Central Catholic, W.Va., 7

9.7, at Westinghouse*, 7

9.15, Allderdice*, 3:30

9.22, Brashear*, 7:30

9.29, at University Prep, 7

10.5, at Carrick, 7

*Conference game


• Perry finished 2022 with a 3-5 overall record and 1-3 mark in the City League to clinch the fourth seed.

• The Commodores’ league win came against Brashear, 28-20.

• Perry will look to beat Westinghouse for the first time since 2014 when the Commodores won 22-20.


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