When Eric Perry was dismissed as head football coach at Desert Hot Springs High School in November, it was fair to assume he would resurface at La Quinta, where he spent 12 years as an assistant to Dan Armstrong.
Instead, this week Perry officially became the new defensive coordinator at Palm Desert, La Quinta’s biggest rival.
“He’s a good football coach,” Aztecs head coach Pat Blackburn said. “He’s done a lot for good things and is passionate about his job. He had an unfortunate deal at Desert Hot Springs, which turns out to be good for us.”
Palm Desert’s defensive struggles in 2013 were widely noted. Despite going 4-1 in the Desert Valley League and winning a share of the league title, the Aztecs gave up 33.5 points per game.
That had to change, especially with the Aztecs’ two biggest offensive weapons — Trae Riek and Kyle Kabeary — graduating this spring.
Over the past two months, Perry and Armstrong had discussed the possibility of a return to La Quinta. But Blackburn ultimately offered Perry an opportunity to venture outside of La Quinta, which Perry viewed as a chance to step out of his comfort zone and learn and prove himself elsewhere.
The irony of going from so many years at La Quinta to Palm Desert isn’t lost on Perry. It’s a move he likened to switching a family allegiance from the Hatfields to the McCoys, referencing the longstanding feud between two families dating back to the Civil War.
Ultimately, it just made the most sense. To go from his ouster at DHS to coaching the defense of the DVL’s co-champion within two months is remarkable, Perry said. He will have seven starters back on defense, and will have full control of the scheme he employs.
And after being without a team and unable to reach out to kids for two months, Perry is glad to again get back to focusing on football.
“It was good that it came to a conclusion fast, and that’s great,” Perry said. “So I’m really excited. This is a good opportunity for me and I couldn’t be happier.
Kabeary in California Classic
For what could be the last time in high school, Palm Desert’s do-it-all quarterback will put a football jersey on to play in the California Classic game Sunday.
The day will feature six teams from California: A Southern Section East team, Southern Section North and South teams, a San Diego Section team, a Bay Area team, a Sacramento Section team and an L.A. City Section team. Kabeary will play for the Southern Section East squad.
The weekend provides a great opportunity for players to get noticed by college recruiters. Skills competitions took place Saturday, and a series of games will be played Sunday at Los Angeles Valley College in Valley Glen.
Kabeary will play in the 1:30 p.m. game.