Sports

July 17, 2013

Kicking it up a level

Perez strikes at chance to sign with Lee University

Even as a freshman at Northwest Whitfield, David Perez saw himself playing soccer beyond his high school days.

That vision will become a reality at Lee University.

Perez, a striker, verbally committed in June to attend the school in Cleveland, Tenn., and said he will receive a partial athletic scholarship from Lee’s soon-to-be NCAA Division II program. Perez, who said he will sign soon, had 18 assists and broke the Bruins’ single-season scoring record this year with 25 goals. The previous record was 21 goals, set in 2012 by Giovanni Aguero, who was also a senior this season.

Perez said he knew he was capable of earning the opportunity to play in college.

“I’ve always wanted to stay playing soccer at a high level,” he said. “It was always a question of how I could do that. I really thought I could do it personally, but I had to put a lot of work into it.”

Bruins coach Ryan Scoggins remembers a younger Perez with those dreams.

“Even as a ninth- and 10th-grader, David always talked about playing at the college level,” said Scoggins, Northwest’s coach since 2002. “He did all the work himself. We just needed to build him up and encourage him.”

Perez expects to play striker at Lee, which is coached by Paul Furey, who is preparing for his third year leading the program. The Flames finished 9-8-1 last season while competing as a member of the National Intercollegiate Association of Athletics and lost in the Southern States Athletic Conference championship.

This year they will begin the transition to NCAA Division II, where they will begin competing for postseason awards starting with the 2015-2016 season.

For the next two years, the program won’t be able to compete for NCAA Division II postseason spots or conference titles, but the Flames will play a Gulf South Conference regular-season schedule. Lee will compete for postseason championships in the Mid-East Region of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA).

Lee wasn’t the first option considered by Perez, whose quickness is perhaps his best asset. Scoggins said Perez was consistently quicker than anyone who defended him this season.

“For a lot of the season, David thought he would go play at Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C.,” Scoggins said. “During the midst of the playoff run, he kind of decided he might want to play somewhere closer to home. So I started calling coaches at local colleges in the Northwest Georgia or Southeast Tennessee area. ... I had several coaches who responded or were interested. Lee’s coach really seemed like he was looking for another striker, and David is a talented striker.”

One thing that caught Perez’s eye at Lee was its education program.

“Of course, I know they have a really good soccer program,” he said. “So I was looking forward to that and continuing my career in that, but it also had a good academic side to add on to that.”

Perez played a vital role in the Bruins’ run to the Georgia High School Association Class 4A state semifinals this season, the deepest postseason run in program history. Northwest was one of three teams from inside Whitfield County to reach that portion of the playoffs. The Bruins lost 2-0 in overtime to Southeast Whitfield, which lost 5-0 to Dalton in the state championship. Northwest finished 16-6 overall and was the runner-up to Dalton in Region 7. As a junior, Perez helped the Bruins go 14-6 overall and reach the Class 4A quarterfinals after the team won a state playoff — it was just their second appearance — for the first time.

He was selected for The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Boys Soccer team each of the past two season, and last month he played in the Stump on Sports Tennessee-Georgia All-Star Boys Soccer Classic, where he earned Georgia Player of the Game honors.

He still feels there is room to improve before beginning his college career.

“I’m trying to go to the gym more,” said Perez, who is 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds. “I’m not the biggest guy and I play forward. Center forward especially is one of the positions where you want a bigger guy. I think I have the ability to move around a lot.

“One thing I have to work on is going to the gym and improve my thighs. I won’t get much taller. I won’t get to be 6 feet tall, but my size and my quickness (can change).

“You can always get quicker.”

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DHS at Heritage 1 mlh.jpg Generally disappointed

    Dalton High School’s baseball team started the fifth inning of Friday’s crucial Sub-region 7B-4A game against Heritage-Catoosa with four consecutive hits.
    The only problem for the Catamounts was that was where their good hitting started and stopped.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Prep roundup: Upset puts N. Murray in baseball playoffs

    Over the past few seasons, a late-season game with Sonoraville has been the deciding factor in whether the North Murray High School baseball team advanced to the state playoffs.

    April 18, 2014

  • Miller, Mariners off to NAIA title tournament

    Former Dalton High School golf standout Chase Miller is finishing his senior year at College of Coastal Georgia on a high note.

    April 18, 2014

  • NW at SE soccer   5  mlh.jpg On to the title match

    With around 15 minutes left in Thursday’s Region 7-4A semifinals match, Northwest Whitfield High School’s boys soccer team increased pressure on Southeast Whitfield with hopes of a tying goal.
    But the host Raiders were the ones getting the late goal.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • DHS tennis day 2 2 mlh.jpg Prep tennis: Perfect Colts claim title in Region 5-3A

    Coahulla Creek High School’s boys tennis team only needed three years to win its first region championship.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Heritage at DHS baseball 3 mlh.jpg Prep baseball: Cats must win today to clinch No. 2 seed

    Dalton High School’s baseball team led 6-5 against visiting Heritage-Catoosa as late as the fifth inning with a chance to clinch second place in Sub-region 7B-4A.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Region track and field: Richardson paces Murray Co. girls

    Katlyn Richardson has had an impressive junior season for Murray County High School’s girls track and field team.

    April 17, 2014

  • Colts boys have shot at 3A golf state sectional

    Coahulla Creek High School’s boys golf team finished second in the Region 5-3A tournament at Calhoun’s Fields Ferry Golf Course on Thursday, but now the Colts will have to wait to see if they will advance to the Class 2A state sectional tournament.

    April 17, 2014

  • CHS Lowe_Bartley 3 mlh.jpg Let’s keep playing

    Academic offerings played a big part in which college football program nabbed Christian Heritage School’s Nich Bartley, one of the area’s top players in 2013.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Prep roundup: Coahulla Creek hurts N. Murray’s playoff hopes

    One play in the fifth inning, during which the sun got in pitcher Braiden Jacobs’ eyes, seemed to encapsulate the entire season for Coahulla Creek High School’s baseball team.
    But it could be one rule misinterpretation that defines the season for North Murray.

    April 17, 2014