The Perryville football schedule will look drastically different in the coming years. That’s because the Pirates will be leaving the Mississippi Area Football Conference-White Division and joining the I-55 Conference, beginning in 2022.
Perryville will switch places with Valle Catholic, who has won the last eight I-55 conference titles, going a combined 50-1. The Warriors will join the MAFC that same season. Perryville football coach Blane Boss said there were several options he was looking at for the Pirates when it came to their conference affiliation.
“Right after the season started I was looking at us joining the Mississippi Area Red Division which had the larger schools with Festus, Hillsboro, Windsor, De Soto and North County,” Boss said. “We had just moved back to Class 4 and I thought it made more sense that we would be playing schools in our class. Once Valle asked out of the I-55 Conference, we went to the conference that opened up. I’m not upset with it, but I wanted to be in the large school division.”
Valle Catholic moved up to Class 3 this past season as the Missouri State High School Activities Association added a “success factor” that bumped the Warriors up two classes.
The Warriors should be ok in the new conference, according to Boss.
“Valle will do just fine,” Boss said. They felt like they weren’t getting any better and made the move. The interesting thing will be that they were able to take their starters out at halftime. They probably won’t get to do that much when they play Park Hills and other teams like that.”
Perryville joins a conference with St. Vincent, Grandview, Herculaneum, Bayless, Jefferson R-7, and St. Pius X. Perryville will be the largest school in the conference that is littered with Class 1 and Class 2 schools. While Boss had his heart set on the Red Division, he believes the I-55 conference allows his team the ability to compete for a conference championship.
“That’s the best thing for us out of this deal,” Boss said. “We are going to be the biggest school in the conference now and have the ability to compete with every team. A conference championship should be at the top of the list when it comes to our goals and what we can accomplish every year.”
While Perryville may be the biggest school in the conference, there are some quality teams within the I-55 that the Pirates will have to contend with. St. Vincent finished 7-4 and advanced to the Class 1, District 1 semifinal before falling to Hayti. The Indians have beaten Perryville the last three seasons in the annual rivalry game. Jefferson R-7 finished 9-3 this past season and advanced to the Class 2 Final Four. St. Pius and Grandview are up-and-coming programs with Bayless having just replaced Crystal City in the conference, and did not compete in 2020 because of COVID-19 concerns.
Boss is already familiar with many of the teams his Pirates will see as St. Vincent has been on the schedule the last four seasons and Perryville played Herculaneum this past fall on homecoming, winning 48-12. Perryville travels to Jefferson on a regular basis for the season opening jamboree and played St. Pius most recently in 2017, a 7-0 victory. The Lancers have won 19 games in the last three seasons.
“None of these teams should be new to the Perryville program,” Boss said. “It’s going to be some tough, competitive football for us.”
Perryville will have one more year with the teams in the Mississippi Area Football Conference-White Division with the likes of Park Hills, Ste. Genevieve, Potosi and Fredericktown. Perryville has had a tough road in the past 10-15 years in the conference having lost the last 14 games to Ste. Genevieve and the last 13 to Park Hills. Potosi has gotten the best of Perryville in 10 of the last 11 meetings, with the lone victory for the Pirates coming in 2018. Perryville has had success against Fredericktown winning four of the last five games.
Boss is optimistic about his team’s chances to compete for a championship in their final year.
“We were very young last year, especially on our offensive line,” Boss said. “We have a lot expected back in some big positions and I hope they take the initiative to work hard in the off season and the weight room. The coach in me wants to play against the best teams and I think playing the Park Hills and teams like that makes us better. When you’ve lost to a team for the last 15 years it can play mind games on you. That’s what I’m trying to change here and the players and I have to put our foot down and be the ones to change it.”