Multi-talented Ireland a 'leader' for Perryville

by Mark Oliver

For Perryville senior Cory Ireland and the Mustangs, the start of September means only one thing — a must-win rivalry game against Bigelow to open the season.

“We had a big win over Bigelow last year,” Ireland said. “We lost to them the year before, and we came back with a vengeance. We wanted to win that game to get the cross-county rivals. It was a pretty important win for us. This year, everyone is fired up, and we’re ready to play some football.”

Ireland is a member of the 2014 501 Football Team — 24 players representing all 11 counties of the 501. The team boasts the best the 501 has to offer both on and off the field. Ireland was nominated by his coach, Ed Baker, and is the first Mustang to be named to the team.

“Cory plays extremely hard,” Baker said. “He is able to keep his head and maintain a positive attitude in difficult times. Cory is a good teammate because of his outgoing personality and his trustworthy and dependable character.”

Ireland got his gridiron start at a young age, watching his two brothers take the field.

“My brothers are 17 and 13 years older than me,” Ireland said. “They both played high school football, so I’ve always been at high school games. I’ve always been up in the bleachers. I’ve been around the game my entire life, and I’ve never thought of doing anything else. I love this game.”

As his senior season dawns, Ireland is focused on the road ahead for the Mustangs.

“I want to break the school rushing record,” Ireland said. “I’m not sure how far away I am, but I know I can do it if I try. I want to help carry my team to the playoffs. We haven’t made it in four or five years, and it would be nice to do.”

Ireland commanded the Mustangs’ running game a year ago, rushing for 837 yards on 170 carries, amassing seven touchdowns.

“We expect Cory to be a leader, not only for his playing ability, but also by how he carries himself,” Baker said. “He has a positive, outgoing personality that lends itself to people wanting to follow him. He is also willing to help teach and work with others to help them improve, even those who play his same position.”

Outside of football, the athletic Ireland also plays shortstop and center field for the Mustangs’ baseball team and is the starting point guard for the basketball team. In his free time, he strongly embraces another fast-growing sport: professional video gaming.

“Whenever I’m not playing sports, I’m playing Xbox,” Ireland said. “I play Call of Duty professionally and have made more than $2,000 in tournament wins. That’s my big hobby.  Behind football it’s my second favorite thing to do.”

Ireland also dedicates his time to the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes program and is involved in FBLA, Student Council and Spanish Club. He also attends New Life Church in Conway twice each week.

“Off the field, Cory is outgoing and friendly to all, trustworthy and dependable,” Baker said. “He exhibits integrity and character in the classroom and participates in our football program’s elementary school reading program. He also volunteers for our school’s EAST class Adopt-A-Highway program, cleaning up trash on a portion of a local highway.”