After six years with coaching stops at Centralia Christ our Rock Lutheran and Highland High Schools, Brian Perkes is heading home to the Mater Dei High School athletic department.
The head basketball coach at Highland for the past three years, Perkes 58, announced this week that he has resigned from that position and is returning to Mater Dei as the Knights assistant athletic director.
“The job of assistant athletic director recently came open, I inquired about it and this week I learned that I had been hired for the positiion,’’ Perkes said. “I teach here, this is where I grew up. I went to school here, graduated from here and was both an assistant and a head coach here for many years. It’s home.
“This was a difficult decision. I have nothing but good things to say about the Highland High School administration. They were very supportive and treated me great. But this was a chance to come back to Mater Dei and, although it’s in a different capacity, stay involved in athletics.”
Perkes is the fifth metro east boys basketball coach to resign since the end of the season.
Earlier this week Belleville West coach Joe Muniz and Triad coach Josh Hunt announced they would be leaving the bench. They joined Eric Smith (Alton) and Mark Sandstrom (Columbia) who stepped down from their coaching jobs earlier this spring.
Perkes enjoyed some success during his short time with the Highland basketball program. The Bulldogs won back-to-back Mississippi Valley Conference championships during the past two years and this season set a new school record with 28 wins.
Perkes also had the opportunity to coach many excellent players at Highland, including all-state football and basketball player Sam LaPorta.
“He’s one of a kind,’’ Perkes said of LaPorta. “He’s going to play NCAA Division I football in the Big 10 at the University of Iowa. That should tell you what kind of athlete he is. But I was very fortunate to be at Highland at a good time. We had a good group of kids who worked hard and had some good success. I feel very good about what we did here at Highland High School.’’
Perkes coached for six years at Coulterville before taking over at Mater Dei, where he was the head coach from 2005-2013. The Knights were 153-85 during that time.
“I was an assistant here (Mater Dei) before being named head coach. We had some success. We won the (Mater Dei) tournament and I think we won the Murphysboro Tournament once or twice,’’ Perkes said. “We didn’t have the postseason success we would have liked. But that was when Central had their very strong teams and it was tough trying to compete against those guys..’’
Perkes was a head coach for 20 years but has been involved in coaching high school basketball for more than 30.
“Am I going to miss it? Well, each year it seems like those bus rides get a little longer and a little colder. I won’t miss that part of the job,’’ Perkes said. “I will miss the competition. When the ball gets thrown up on Tuesday and Friday nights and I’m not on the bench, I’ll miss that.
“But I will be around the sport. Plus, my daughter is junior at Mater Dei and so it will be nice to see her a little more. Now she won’t have to choose sides when Mater Dei and Highland play.’’