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A leader on and off the field

Perham's Jack DeConcini finds daylight after the offensive line gave him a gaping hole to run through against East Grand Forks. DeConcini rushed for four touchdowns in the win.1 / 2
Perham's Jack DeConcini talks things over along the sideline before the third quarter with a pair of teammates during Perham's victory over Pequot Lakes. Jason Groth/FOCUS2 / 2

Perham senior Jack DeConcini has grown into his role as a leader on and off the field for the Perham Yellowjacket football team.

The senior running back and linebacker leads the team in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and receiving touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, he is third in tackles.

DeConcini can often be seen giving advice and pointers to his teammates as one of the senior leaders. This leadership was on display during a slow first half against Thief River Falls on Sept. 16 and again against Pequot Lakes, when the Yellowjackets struggled in the third quarter on Sept. 24.

"He brings a good dimension to our running game. He is a solid kid and a strong runner. He is a great leader in practice and kids look up to him," Perham head coach Kyle Knutson said. "He has words of encouragement, and it has been an outstanding year for him."

The son of Chris and Lynn DeConcini and the youngest of three boys, Jack gained his competitive nature by growing up with older brothers Alex and Ryan, who also played high school sports.

After a disappointing end to the 2015 football season, one that ended with a first round upset to Park Rapids, DeConcini worked hard in the offseason to prepare for 2016.

Last season was a tough one for him, as he had to battle a nagging ankle injury that hampered him on the field. But he put in the work at the Sanford Power Center in Fargo, N.D., and improved his speed and quickness.

DeConcini said the loss to Park Rapids gave him a feeling he didn't ever want to feel again. He knew he needed to put in more work during the offseason, and he did just that.

"He spent some time going to Fargo and making himself better there. He got bigger, he got stronger and he got faster," Knutson said. "It's really fun to see him grow into what he has become his senior year here."

DeConcini's extra effort has paid off with a blistering start to this season. He scored eight touchdowns in the season's first two games. He has 12 rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns after the team's 29-13 victory over Pequot Lakes.

DeConcini is quick to credit the linemen in front of him for paving and clearing his way on the field. He said he doesn't want to let them down.

"They are putting their bodies on the line for me every play," DeConcini said. "I'm just trying score for them. I'm just trying to make them happy and not let them down."

DeConcini has rewarded his linemen for their hard work. He has rushed for nearly 100 yards per game through the first four. He rushed for 381 yards on 60 carries. He has three receptions for 28 yards with the team's only receiving touchdowns.

Defensively, he is third on the team in tackles, with 20. He has two tackles for a loss and has forced a fumble.

"He is an asset on both sides of the ball, there is no doubt about that," Knutson said. "It doesn't matter what side of the ball he is on, if he is on the field or off the field, he is doing things right."

Football is something DeConcini loves. He said his favorite moments come off the field, with his friends and family, along with the bus rides and times in the locker room. He said it's been a dream of his to be a captain of the football team.

"Since I was younger, I always looked up to Payton Jordahl Jordan Hein and others," DeConcini said. "I just wanted to contribute like that."

The goal is simple for the Yellowjackets, according to DeConcini: To capture a section championship and advance to state.

"We want to keep putting points up on offense," DeConcini said. "We have a great offensive line. After our first game, our defense was suffering a bit, but now we fixed some things and that's looking great, too. The state tournament is the bottom line goal."

Along with the offensive line, DeConcini said he is grateful for the coaching he has received from the Perham football staff.

Off the field, DeConcini's leadership among his classmates recently became evident when he was crowned the 2016 homecoming king. In the winter, he serves as captain for the Detroit Lakes Laker hockey team.

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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