After 13 years, Perry steps down as Andover football coach

May 9—After 13 years and 96 career wins, E.J. Perry has stepped down as Andover High head football coach.

"Every year, you evaluate where you are in coaching, teaching and life," said Perry. "I'm retiring as a teacher, and while I was getting my paperwork together in February, I started thinking about what I wanted to do with my future. This was the toughest decision of my life, but it was the one I thought was right."

The 60-year-old Perry closes out his tenure as Andover head coach with a 96-58 record. This past fall, his Golden Warriors finished 10-2, won their second straight Merrimack Valley Conference Division 1 title and advanced to the MIAA Division 1 semifinals.

"Once you retire from teaching, you have to evaluate what to do," said Perry, who is in his final year as a fifth-grade teacher at Andover's West Elementary School. "I've coached three sports for 30 of the last 35 years. The other five years I coached two sports. A lot of people keep coaching after they retire. My father did. Being a football coach 24 hours a day might have been a positive. But people who know me know how I am. I'm hosting players at the school at 7 a.m. (Friday). Once you retire, you start to think about where your home base will be."

Perry, the oldest of seven siblings, was a three-sport star for the Golden Warriors (1979-1983), earning Eagle-Tribune All-Star honors in football as a receiver and basketball as a guard. He then went on to play college basketball at Colby, scoring more than 1,000 points.

His coaching journey led him to Salem (N.H.) High, where he found tremendous success as both a boys basketball (two Class L titles, 177-100 record in 12 years) and a boys volleyball coach (record-setting 112-0 with six titles at Salem). He was named Eagle-Tribune Coach of the Decade for the 2000's.

But he returned home in 2010, when he was hired as Andover High football coach.

"This is 27 years in waiting," Perry said at the time. "Football and football coaching are in my blood, and so is Andover. It never gets out."

In his first season as head coach, the Golden Warriors went 8-3, won the MVC Division 1 title and advanced to the postseason for the first time in 35 years — under the old playoff system when only the league champ made the postseason. He was named Eagle-Tribune Coach of the Year that fall.

Andover also advanced to the Division 1 semifinals — under the current playoff system — in 2016, upsetting St. John's Prep in the quarterfinals.

On the football field, Perry had the opportunity to coach his son, E.J. Perry IV, who rewrote the Eagle-Tribune record books as a quarterback (8,712 yards, 114 TDs for career).

He is currently playing professionally for the UFL's Michigan Panthers.

Perry also coached his daughter Julia during his four seasons as Andover girls head basketball coach, compiling a 65-27 record and twice making the Division 1 state semifinals. This past winter, he won a state title as an assistant basketball coach at Malden Catholic. He's also in his 11th season as Andover head boys volleyball coach.

He cited spending more time with Julia and her son — his first grandchild — Irijah, who now live in Tampa, Fla., and following the football career of his younger son Will, who is heading into his freshman season at UMass Amherst, as factors in his decision.

"My grandson was born on my birthday (in September), and I didn't get to see him for three months," said Perry. "He was in the ICU for two weeks, and I couldn't see him because I was coaching. Then I only saw him for a weekend because I was teaching. Things come up in life. I'm going to be coaching my grandson one day."