Senior Brent Roth is not trying to become another Kris Cottner.
"Cottner is gone," Roth said. "He ran his way, and I'm going to run my way."
Roth will take over the duties of starting running back for the Pirates, replacing Cottner, a 2008 graduate who was considered one of the top running backs in Southeast Missouri over the past two falls. Cottner sprinted for 2,382 yards and scored 18 touchdowns.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Roth is a bigger back than Cottner (5-10, 180), who now plays at Southeast Missouri State.
Roth spent his sophomore and junior seasons at Perryville playing wide receiver, and was a tight end his freshman year.
Although he lacks experience running the football, he said he doesn't lack confidence.
"I've always enjoyed just making plays," Roth said. "Being running back, you get that opportunity a lot more. So I enjoy it a lot.
"Every time I get the ball, I want to get at least five yards."
First-year Perryville coach Jim May originally envisioned Roth being his No. 4 back, who acts as a wide receiver, blocker and occasional runner.
But May liked what he saw when Roth ran the ball at a recent contact camp at Sikeston.
"He's fast and he runs hard," May said. "He picked up our offense in about two days. And it was completely different from what he's used to. So he has football smarts. I think he's going to be a real good back. ... You can tell that with the ball in his hands he's special and he sees well."
May, who previously served as an assistant at Perryville and most recently at Chaffee, takes over a struggling program. He accepted the position following the offseason resignation of Rick Chastain, who posted a combined 17-34 in five seasons while winning a district title in 2004.
Perryville won its first three games, but finished with a 4-6 record last season.
May said Perryville fans should expect the Pirates to run the ball often with good-sized athletes on the offensive line blocking for Roth and quarterback Josh Perreault, who also should add to the ground attack after rushing for 404 yards on 93 carries in 2007.
"It's run, run, run, and run some more," senior lineman Garrett Leible said. "It's pretty much stack everybody up in the box and coming at you and you better stop it."
Perreault provided a strong running duo when teamed with Cottner last year. Perreault actually was a running back until last fall, when he converted to quarterback.
Perreault said May told him that if he wanted the running back position, he could have it.
The senior also had another decision to make — whether to continue football or pursue soccer, a first-year sports program at Perryville.
Perreault ultimately decided on football and to stick with quarterback.
He chose to play football because he is a senior and has been with the program for his entire high school career. He decided to remain the quarterback because he felt Perryville had numerous skill position players, including Roth, who could play running back while the team lacked options at quarterback.
"We're short-handed on quarterbacks, and I did it last year and I did it all right," he said. "So I figured I'd work a little harder and come out and do a little better."
Perreault said that Roth has shown he can be an effective runner.
"He's filled those shoes actually quite well," Perreault said. "We do miss [Cottner]. He was a good athlete, but we're going to do well. [Roth] is strong and shifty. ... He's very good at reading. He gets caught up in a situation, I give him 60 percent of the time he'll get out of it."
Roth said the best part of having Perreault at quarterback is that he could run or throw, so he keeps defenses guessing.
Senior Michael Bachmann will play fullback.
Senior Mitchell Voelker (5-9, 187 pounds) will start at center. Junior Jack Meyer (5-10, 225) will play right guard and junior Tyler Brown (5-11, 245) will man left guard. Senior Tyson Brown (6-5, 230) will play left tackle and Leible (6-2, 265) will be the right tackle. Senior Logan Franklin (5-11, 240) also could see some time on the line.
"I know we're all big and strong and slightly crazy," Leible said.
Besides the run
Perreault completed 61 of 131 pass attempts for 655 yards last season. He tossed four touchdowns and nine interceptions.
May said Perreault could throw play-action passes to keep defenses off balance.
"I think you have to do something well and hopefully that is run the ball," May said. "But with Perreault back there, anything is game. We could eventually spread it out. We've looked at some spread looks to get him more space to work in and more places to make decisions."
Andrew Martin and Chris Koesterer will play tight end. May said he has multiple wide receiver options, including Ethan Taylor, Lance Regelsperger and Matt Lukefahr.
"We've got big expectations this year," Leible said. "I know coach May said he wants to win every game. I know I'm the same way. I'm very competitive. So he brings a competitive edge. He'll get in your face and tell you what's going on. I really like that. I'm excited. I'm ready to go."
May said that he is eager to re-establish Perryville as a winning program.
"We're going to try to change the mentality they have," May said. "It's been down here for a while. They haven't had a winning season in a while and we're hoping to change that soon."
Perryville returns starting quarterback Josh Perreault, who completed 61 of 131 pass attempts for 655 yards while also running for 404 yards on 93 carries last season. Brent Roth will take over at running back, replacing Kris Cottner, who sprinted for 2,382 yards and scored 18 touchdowns over the past two seasons.
Perryville will run both a 4-3 and 4-4 defense with some pressure. Roth returns at linebacker after making 67 tackles last season. May said Perreault will play cornerback, and despite not having played the position much in the past, he has a lot of natural ability and could become one of the best defensive backs in the area.
Ben Prevallet likely will kick extra points and field goals that are 30 yards or shorter. Perreault likely will kick field goals longer than 30 yards. May said Perreault has a stronger leg, while Prevallet is more consistent on shorter kicks. Lance Regelsperger will return punts.
vs. De SotoW22-7
vs. Ste. GenevieveW21-14
vs. Park Hills CentralL25-17
at New Madrid Co.L20-0
Aug. 29Pacific7 p.m.
Sept. 5at De Soto7 p.m.
Sept. 12Ste. Genevieve7 p.m.
Sept. 19Park Hills Central7 p.m.
Sept. 26at Potosi7 p.m.
Oct. 3at Fredericktown7 p.m.
Oct. 11Herculaneum1 p.m.
Oct. 17at Kennett7 p.m.
Oct. 24Dexter7 p.m.
Oct. 30at New Madrid Co.7 p.m.