Following South Bend Washington's victory over Mishawaka to win the Sectional Championship, running back-linebacker David Perkins did not immediately celebrate. As his team ran over the cheering fans, he slumped over on the field and tears filled his eyes.
At the end of an emotional game, Perkins needed a moment to himself. He had shown more effort, determination and heart than he had all season, gashing Mishawaka for 211 yards and two touchdowns while making numerous tackles on defense.
"I'm proud of my team first off," he said. "I know I can speak for myself and I gave it my all. I put my heart on that field every single play. I know my team had my back and I did it for them. They were hungry and they wanted it, so I can't sell them short ever."
The Panthers won their first Sectional Championship since 1977, the only other time a Washington team has accomplished such a feat.
"It's big. It means a lot to this city, to the school, to everybody in the community. Every game we put the city on our back and represent."
Fresh off a decommitment from Notre Dame, there were several fans in the stands with Irish gear on urging Perkins to re-consider. Several college coaches attended the game. While the pressure of making a decision is always there, he has pushed it all aside for the moment to make sure nothing stands in the way of reaching Lucas Oil Stadium for the state title game.
"Recruiting is always there, being a D1 prospect and having all these schools coming out, it's always there and it's always in the back of your mind, but we have bigger things and we have to go. We aren't stopping until we get there, so any side stuff like a college decision that isn't due until February can wait until November 25th."
Ignoring recruiting is impossible for a kid like Perkins, but it has gotten even more difficult since his decommitment.
"I think, the first night I decommitted, I had like 15 different schools call and the next night it was eight schools. It was overwhelming. I had a bunch of voice mails that I haven't returned yet."
There are schools he mentions as interested like Oregon, LSU, Syracuse, Michigan State and more, but no visits are scheduled, no favorites have named and none will be until Perkins takes care of his team first.
"I'm still waiting, still wide open and seeing what comes through. When I pick out five, that will be the five I take visits to, but right now, I'm just seeing who comes through."