Washington’s Perry Owens and climbing the coaching ladder

Published 6:01 pm Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Climbing the coaching ranks isn’t easy. Offensive coordinator at Washington High School Perry Owens can tell you that. He’s been in quite a few places coaching football and has gained the respect of others all around the state of North Carolina and surrounding areas.

Owens played his high school ball at John A. Holmes High School in Edenton. He went on to play in college for Old Dominion as a part of the school’s first-ever recruiting class.

Now, the current OC at Washington has been in this position going on his third year after being hired the same year head coach Jon Blank took over as head coach. Owens said he has cherished his time in Washington.

“What I enjoy about Washington is it’s eastern North Carolina football. It’s got a special place in my heart,” Owens said. “This is a community that will support if they see that their kids are being led in the right direction. I just love Washington, it’s close to home for me, the community support, and the coaching staff here has grown by leaps and bounds thanks to coach Blank and his leadership. Coach Blank lets me be me.”

Blank has helped develop Owens along with young coaches Alex Heck and Kevin Chapman as well. According to Owens, Blank has molded all the coaches on the staff to fit their own career goals.

People around Owens say his knowledge of the game is tremendous. He completely changed the dynamic of an offense mid-game, mid-season to find the strengths of his offense and it worked.

For perspective, the Pam Pack was a multiple look offense in 2017. They began the season with a variety of formations until they trailed Northside by 11 at halftime in the fourth game of the season.

“I pulled triple-option out of the bag,” Owens said.

Since then, the Pam Pack put up record numbers. They finished the 2017 season with the fifth-most points in school history, breaking the single game record for points scored (67) and total yards (706) in a game.

Harold Robinson Jr. is a former coach of 31 years at Williamston High School and was later hired onto the East Carolina University football staff, where he stayed for 12 years. Robinson said he sees quite a bit of potential in Owens.

“The definition of coaching, is to take a kid and push them to a limit they wouldn’t take themselves. That’s exactly what Perry is doing every day in the weight room,” Robinson said.

Coach Owens also coaches the track team, and Robinson talked about the tremendous job he’s done to get the student-athletes to come out and perform well.

Owens owns a record of 35-1 in boys track, while his girl’s team is 32-4 in the past few seasons and he has sent many athletes to state in his tenure.

“Perry is ahead of the game. We’re very lucky to have him here,” Robinson said. “He relates to those kids. That’s why so many kids come out and play for him, because he relates to them so well.”

One of the biggest feats that Owens has accomplished in his time at Washington is the student-athletes weight room performance.

Owens explained that the weight room a few years ago was a mess. A complete overhaul of the weight room has not only improved the look, but the productivity coming out of it as well.

The Pam Pack football team has added 22,000-pounds of weight to its lifts since he first began three years ago, according to Owens.

Ian Rapanick, a former graduate assistant at Old Dominion during Owens’ playing career, former head coach at Perquimans High School and current coach at Norview High School in Virginia, said that he and Owens have the same approach to the weight room.

“The reason we’re such good friends is because we have the same approach. He wants to learn from as many people as he possibly can. I’ve been down there and sat in on his (weight training) classes because his work ethic is contagious,” Rapanick said. “You get fired up by just being around (Owens). I’m a 26-year-old man and I’m in there yelling and screaming with these kids. If I was experiencing that everyday I’d be ready to run through a wall for this dude.”

Former head coach and founder of Carolinapreps.com Chris Hughes spoke highly of Owens as well.

“I visited them in the weight room and watched him put the kids through everything as a weight room coach should, but it’s more of the discipline he expects from them,” Hughes said. “A lot of times kids get off in a corner and find ways to hide and not put in the work. He has a pretty good system in place and finds ways to keep everybody engaged and doesn’t allow room for down time.”

Owens has earned the respect amongst the conference as well. West Craven’s fifth year head coach Mike Twitchell said Owens is doing things the right way.

“I’ve watched his kids grow the way they’re supposed to.” Twitchell said. “That’s what happens when you get kids in the weight room. When you get around good football programs, that’s the one thing that everybody has in common. They’re able to get the majority of their football players in strength and conditioning classes.”

According to Twitchell, working hard in the summer is a testament to a good football team.

“You have to work hard in the off-season. Taking June and July off, those days are behind us in high school football,” Twitchell said. “You can’t do that anymore and expect to win games at a high level. It’s become six months out of year not including strength and conditioning.”

When it comes to the next step for Owens and coaches around the country looking to reach a head coaching position, Rapanick says to be sponge.

“The biggest thing I tell anybody is to be a sponge and soak up everything you possibly can,” Rapanick said. “The day I don’t learn something while coaching is the day I give up coaching, because the game is always changing.”

Similarly, Twitchell said that surrounding yourself with successful people is important.

“I think as a young coach, just getting into the profession is huge. Learn as much as you can about different offenses and defenses,” Twitchell said. “I tried to pick out the most successful people around me. Don’t try and reinvent the wheel. A lot of guys win because they out-work people. Do what people around you are doing to be successful.”

Owens has picked up a lot of knowledge from his different coaching and playing stints. Hughes said that he was one of the best young coaches yet to have a head coach position.

“I go out and grade coaches and I feel like I’ve got a beat on the good ones and the bad ones,” Hughes said. “(Perry) is one of those young coaches that have yet to become a head coach that I’ve identified. He’s got all the tools in his tool box to make him a very prominent head coach one day and I think a lot of him from a professional stand point.”

Hughes also gave some insight on what he expects from the Pam Pack as a whole this season.
“I feel like they got better as the season went on last year and they got better each week. There are no (easy) games on their schedule (this season) so they’re going to have to bring it. But they’ll be better. They’re not a top-10 or maybe not a top-20 team state wise but they’re on the verge of breaking through.”

Owens’ peers think that when the right opportunity comes along, he is ready to make the jump to head coach when the timing is right for him.

“He’s the kind of person that’s careful about the decisions he makes,” Rapanick said, “But I definitely see him becoming a head coach somewhere within the next two years.”

Owens certainly wouldn’t be short on letters of recommendation, but his current mission is still with the Washington Pam Pack. Owens’ offense returns key pieces to make his offense just as explosive as the past couple of seasons. With kickoff just under a month away, it’ll be interesting to see how the 2019 season unfolds.