Perry's hiring was announced Thursday by school officials, only three days after Frank Smith resigned following four seasons on the job.
"With the off-season conditioning and upcoming spring practice rapidly approaching, we felt the urgency to quickly fill this position for the sake of our student-athletes," said Cawood High School Principal Mike Ashurst in a statement. "We welcome coach Perry to our staff and wish him success."
After 14 seasons as an assistant, Perry looks forward to the opportunity to be a head coach.
"My conversations with the administration were so positive, and I felt I would get total support from the system," Perry said. "To me, they understand the value of high school athletics. It can be so much of a morale builder for your school. And I want to be part of that."
Perry has an impressive football background that also includes stops at Garrard County, Lincoln County and Danville.
After graduating from Frankfort High School in 1986, where he participated in football, basketball and track, Perry went on to earn a degree at Eastern Kentucky University.
He started his coaching career at Garrard County under his older brother, Jerry. After six years at Garrard, Perry went to Lincoln for one season and Danville for two, where we worked with Sam Harp. He posted a 9-2 record as the junior varsity coach in 1999 and was a member of the 2A state runner-up squad's staff in 1998.
After two seasons away from coaching, Perry moved to Harlan in 2002 and joined J.B. Donahue's staff as defensive coordinator. The Dragons gave up less than 18 points a game last season as the top-rated defense in Region 4. Harlan finished 8-4 and lost to Somerset in the District 7 finals.
"J.B. made my transition to Harlan very easy, and I've formed a lot of relationships and friendships through him," Perry said. "We worked well together and having (assistant coach) Frank (Shope) on the staff the last couple of years made it a little easier for me to move on because I think he will do an exceptional job."
Cawood has posted only one winning season out of the last eight but returns several key players from last year's 3-8 squad. Perry is also excited about the potential coming from the New Harlan middle school squad that finished second last season to Bell County in the Cumberland Valley Conference.
"They've had tremendous numbers on the junior high team, and the key is going to be getting those kids out and getting them excited about football," Perry said. "The relationship with the middle school is a key. We value what they do and we want to be involved in what they do.
"We want to build something and, hopefully, continue that into the new school."
Perry plans to continue the same style of defense he employed at Harlan in his new job.
"As far as our scheme, we're going to be a 50 and be technique-oriented and a read-and-react type defense," he said. "We may not always be the most athletic, but we will have good technique. It's going to be a lot of work, and spring practice is going to be very important.
"I'm looking at some different things offensively, but you can probably expect us to run the triple option with some play-action passing."
Perry also expects to bring back several of the assistants from last season's staff at Cawood.
Cawood moves into 3A next season as part of a statewide realignment and will compete in a district with Breathitt County, Fleming County, Estill County and Powell County.
"It's going to be a challenge, but I don't see any reason why we can't be successful," he said.