Parker offensive player of the yearPublished 8:56pm Tuesday, December 27, 2011
YEATESVILLE — Just how much was Reggie Parker respected this season? This year the Four Rivers Conference championship was split between two teams that ranked in the top 10 in the state in Plymouth and Manteo, while finishing underneath those two in the standings where traditionally strong programs Southside and Riverside. However, when it came time to hand out the award for the Four Rivers Conference Player of the Year that honor did not go to a player on anyone of those teams. Instead, the coaches voted to hand it to Parker, the South Creek quarterback who lead his team to a 4-9 record. That alone speaks volumes about the type of season the senior had.
The 6-2, 180-pound lefty frightened defensive coordinators all season long as he was just as much of a threat to run for a first down as he was to throw for one in coach Jeremy Jones’ shotgun triple-option offense.
In most games he did his fair share of both as he racked up 1,070 passing yards and 714 rushing yards while accounting for 16 touchdowns. That effort not only led South Creek to its first-ever win in school history, but also enabled Parker to be named the Washington Daily News Offensive Player of the Year.
Having to plan for other talented dual-threat QBs, Jones said trying to defend a guy with Parker’s capabilities is extremely challenging.
“The first thing you want to do is shut the quarterback down,” Jones said. “When defending the pass you’re going to have somebody spy him because if you run everybody out into coverages, if he makes one guy miss a sack it can turn into a 25-yard gain. It’s a headache.”
Parker gave a lot of team’s headaches this season, which was a pleasant turnaround from last season when the pain was mostly one sided.
South Creek High School was born in 2010 when Bear Grass, which did not have a football program, merged with Roanoke. It would be a wedding without a honeymoon as the Cougars went 0-11 in its inaugural season.
This year, South Creek got off to a bumpy start as it dropped its first three games of the season to extend its losing streak to 14 and prolong that chatter that the team might not win a game all year.
Parker would not allow that. In the fourth game of the season the senior connected on seven of his 15 pass attempts for 76 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions while running for 33 yards to win hotly contested 24-20 ballgame over Northampton-East to put the Cougars in the win column for the first time in school history.
“It was a tough win, but it was so unbelievable. After we won that game it was just a feeling that you can’t describe, especially after an 0-11 season,” Parker said. “With us losing the first three games of the season you had everybody saying it would be another 0-11 season but after we won that game people were like ‘Okay, maybe they can turn it around.’ Then we just worked harder every day from then on.”
The Cougars’ momentum would carry over into the next week where they topped Perquimans. South Creek would go on to beat both Southside and Northside and make it into the NCHSAA 1-A playoffs.
It would be easy to assume that picking up the school’s first victory would be Parker’s best moment of the year but that’s not the case. Heading into the season nobody was quite sure what South Creek was capable of but Parker was convinced that this team would be better than last year’s before the season even started.
“My favorite moment of the year was not during the season, it was during summer camp when we went to the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) camp,” Parker said. “That’s when we really bonded as a team and really got to know each other. That’s when we could see that there was a big improvement from where we were my junior year.”
As the team progressed, so did Parker. While the senior QB made advances in his reads and mechanics, Jones said his biggest leap was in the development of his character.
“I think the biggest difference was in his maturity and leadership,” Jones said. “In his junior year I think at times he was willing to pass the leadership off too much and at other times it was ‘I need to make a play and I’m going to do it right now by myself.’ At times he just took on too much by himself.
“The biggest development I saw from him was now during lunchtime he’s watching film. He’s was always like ‘Coach can I watch film after practice’ or before the game on Friday’s saying ‘Coach can I watch film.’ He would study his opponent and study what we were doing. He became a student of the game.”
That film study allowed Parker to not only maximize his talent and play with confidence but to also feel confident about the other 10 players lining up with him.
“He believes in himself, but the biggest thing this year was believing in everybody around him,” Jones said. “There’s times where, I’m not going to lie, as a coach we’re lining up to throw the ball and I’m thinking ‘please don’t throw the slant on this,’ but if he believes the slant is there he’s going to throw it. But, it’s the growing up and development from thinking ‘I got to make a play’ to ‘throw it away and let’s play second down’ that has shown just how much he progressed.”
Progress is a key word at South Creek where Jones’ main focus expands beyond trying to capture a winning season and extends into developing and sustaining a great program. By rebounding from its 0-11 season of a year ago to make the postseason in 2011, Parker can take great satisfaction in the fact that he is a giant stone in the Cougars’ foundation.
“It makes me feel a lot better about the future. We got a great quarterback that was under me and I feel like I led him the right way,” Parker said. “We’re trying to build a program. That’s the main thing that Coach Jones stresses to us and I feel like I went about that the way he wanted.”