Top coach: Snohomish’s Perry

Panthers enjoy perfect 9-0 regular season

By BRAD VICTOR

Herald Writer

The year 2000 was a success in many ways for Snohomish football coach Mark Perry. The Panthers were 9-0 in the regular season and were dominant in the Western Conference 4A leading Perry to be named The Herald’s All-Area Coach of the Year.

The closest game Snohomish had, a 26-13 victory, was on a wet, windy and cold Friday night in late October at Oak Harbor against the Wildcats. The game symbolized how well Perry coached his team this season.

Oak Harbor played a good game and was very stingy on its home field. Snohomish was caught up in a dog fight and obviously wanted to keep its perfect record alive. Perry and the Panthers found a way to win the game.

Perry said he mixed things up and turned to his assistants for advice.

"This job of coaching takes more than one person to make a team successful," Perry said.

Perry grew up in Post Falls, Idaho, and attended Post Falls High School, graduating in 1979. Perry lettered in football and wrestling in high school. He attended Boise State University on a wrestling scholarship. After one year, Perry transferred to Eastern Washington University where he would finish his wrestling career and his studies.

Perry had very little notion he would ever be a football coach, let alone one for a storied program such as the one at Snohomish.

In 1983 Perry got his first job as a coach at East Valley High School in Spokane, where he was the freshmen coach for one season. His next stop was Snohomish, where he has been ever since with the exception of a one-year stint again at East Valley.

At Snohomish, Perry served as an assistant to Dick Armstrong, the state’s winningest coach, for 11 years. In 1994 Armstrong retired and the coaching job was given to Perry.

"The shoes I had to fill were huge but I wasn’t afraid to do the job, after all I had already been a part of this program for the previous 11 years," said Perry.

Snohomish had had some down years in the ’90s. Of course, not winning a league championship comprises a down year at Snohomish, where the expectations are always high.

But Perry and his eight assistants have built the program back to where it used to be, a powerhouse.

"The kids couldn’t wait to get this season going because of the confidence level they had and how hard they had all worked in the offseason," Perry said.

In 2000 the Panthers would finally beat Cascade, their nemesis in the ’90s, as well as defending co-champion Kamiak en route to their undefeated season and the Wesco 4A championship.

Perry and his wife, Tammy, have three boys: 11-year-old Bradley, 8-year-old Luke, and 6-year old Tanner. Perry said his family is a source of support and, from time to time, advice.

"My family is great and they all love what I’m doing," Perry said.

Perry, 39, has been coaching since he was 22 years old.

"It’s been a long road from Post Falls, Idaho, to East Valley in Spokane to Snohomish, where I couldn’t be happier," Perry said.

As far as the 2001 season is concerned, it couldn’t come sooner for Perry, his players and his staff.

"We’ve got some unfinished business to attend to," he said.

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