Special to the Sun
Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Alex Perry highlights
When Alex Perry steps on the football field Sunday during the Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl in San Antonio, the eighth-grader at Faith Lutheran Jr./Sr. School knows most people will be more interested in watching the running back with whom he is sharing carries.
Dylan Moses of Baton Rouge, La., is verbally committed to LSU and will be the main attraction at the annual youth football showcase, which features 48 of the nation’s top eighth-grade players. Moses, who is already 6-foot, 205 pounds and runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash, made national news when he committed to the Tigers after being offered a scholarship last summer at their camp.
But Perry is no slouch.
Erik Richards, the Youth Bowl’s national director of scouting, said Perry is also a top talent and a player who will make an impact in the upcoming seasons on the high school ranks. While it is tough to predict how a middle school athlete will develop, several former local players invited to the youth game — Bishop Gorman High quarterback Anu Solomon (Arizona) and Liberty High running back Niko Kapeli (UNLV), for instance — have gone on to record-setting high school careers, and players from other areas have become five-star Division I recruits.
The 5-foot-10, 150-pound Perry is credited with having similar attributes to another Las Vegas-area running back.
“I hate to throw out local comparisons, but he reminds me of DeMarco Murray,” Richards said in comparing Perry to the Dallas Cowboys and former Gorman tailback.
Perry, who played on the Faith Lutheran middle school team, was surprised when he was contacted to participate in the game. Richards received game-film nominations for more than 2,700 players, but Perry’s highlights came with a valuable endorsement.
Gorman sophomore Nicco Fertitta, an alumnus of the youth game and two-year varsity performer, said he was a sure-thing prospect.
“Nicco trains with him and emailed me his highlight link,” Richards said. “He told me (Perry) is the kind of back we have down here. He obviously knows the feel of what is expected to compete here.”
For Perry, it’s been a humbling experience.
“I would never have thought I would be known as one of the best players in the nation,” he said. “It really inspires me. I want to be out there on that field playing against the best competition.”
Perry, whose brother, Armand Perry, is a rising senior at Gorman and a key piece in the defending state champion Gaels' secondary, is deciding whether to stay at Faith Lutheran or join his brother at Gorman next year. His father, Archie Perry, won a state title at Gorman in the 1980s.
Ethan Dedeaux highlights
Perry is one of four players from the area participating in the Youth Bowl — two in the event’s eighth-grade game and two in the seventh-grade game.
Safety Ethan Dedeaux (5-foot-8, 155 pounds) of Henderson is playing in the event for the second straight year. He is considered one of nation’s best performers in the secondary after registering top performances at evaluation camps, Richards said.
“He is a hard-hitting safety. He will come up and smack you,” he said. “That kid is a no-brainer (to be selected). He is one of the top defensive backs in the country.”
In the seventh-grade game, Southern Nevada will be represented by defensive end Adam Plant Jr. and wide receiver Deon Cormier.
The 5-foot-10, 130-pound Plant was named the top defensive lineman last fall during Football University’s Top Gun camp. Football University, which is affiliated with the youth game, helps evaluate and train players.
And, more important, he has room to grow. Plant already wears a size 12 shoe and appears to be following in the footsteps of his father — 6-foot-5, 340-pound Plant Sr. played in the NFL and CFL as an offensive lineman.
“What impresses me is his technique. It’s great,” Richards said of Plant.
The Las Vegas area typically doesn’t produce many college players in the passing game, but Richards feels Cormier could be the exception.
“I don’t think we’ve had a wide receiver from Vegas (in the history of the youth game), and I was beginning to think there was something in the water out there,” Richards said. "Then along comes Deon. He’s a tall and lanky kid. When he gets his routes down, he’ll be a good one.”
The Youth All-American Bowl isn’t the only national event for middle school players this week. In Southern California, six from the Las Vegas Valley are playing Friday in the Junior Academic All-American game at the Home Depot Center. There are two youth games, one for players 14 and under and another for 13 -and under.
Shaon Berry, the CEO of Junior Rank Sports, said he received more than 3,000 nominations for his two games. Along with game film, he requires athletes turn in their report card and only picks players with a 3.0 or better grade point average.
Of the 140 players who participated in his event last year, Berry said four have already received scholarship offers and 15 played on their high school’s varsity team as freshmen.
Like Richards, he feels the youth and high school talent in Las Vegas is off the charts.
“Las Vegas is a diamond in the rough,” said Berry, who started the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, a game for high school seniors also played this week at the Home Depot Center. “When you look at the talent that comes out of Las Vegas and compare it to the populace, it’s pretty impressive the amount of quality players (the city) produces."
The locals in the 14-and-under game are: tight end Brock Hershberger (6-foot, 155 pounds), defensive lineman Tavita Moe III (6-foot-3, 305 pounds) and linebacker CJ Araujo (5-foot-10, 165 pounds).
The locals in the 13-and-under game are: quarterback Kenyon Oblad, offensive lineman Jared Ables (5-foot-7, 150 pounds and linebacker Crishaun Lappin (5-foot-6, 160 pounds).
Oblad, a Henderson resident who attends Del Webb Middle School, was also selected to play in the 7th Grade Future All-American Bowl in Tampa, Fla., but had to decline because it was the same weekend as the Junior Rank event.