Championship Notebook: West Rowan’s Parks setting new standards
By Bret Strelow
WINSTON-SALEM ó K.P. Parks led West Rowan to the 3A state championship Saturday. He also won two individual titles.
Parks picked up the MVP plaque after running for 219 yards and three touchdowns in the Falcons’ 35-7 victory against West Craven at Wake Forest’s BB&T Field. The effort enabled him to overtake Jjshaun Pinkston of NPC rival Mooresville for the state rushing crown.
Parks completed his junior season with 2,864 yards and 43 touchdowns. Pinkston, whose team lost in the second round of the playoffs, gained 2,791 yards and led Parks by 146 entering Saturday.
Parks turned in the seventh-best rushing performance since state title games began being played at neutral sites in 1989. The top six marks belong to Williamston’s D’Brian Hudgins (317 yards in 1999), Albemarle’s T.A. McLendon (289 yards in 2001), Rose’s Andre Brown (270 yards in 2003), North Gaston’s Princeton Brooks (269 yards in 2007), Cummings’ Jamil Miller (244 yards in 2006) and Dudley’s Jamal Edwards (243 yards in 2002). A.L. Brown’s Nick Maddox, who had 205 yards in 1997, is now ninth on the list.
ONE YEAR LEFT: Parks has rushed for 7,121 yards and scored 99 touchdowns in his three-year varsity career. If he stays healthy, he’s on pace to become the second-leading rusher in state history.
Parks trails only Toney Baker (10,241 yards at Ragsdale), McLendon (9,038), Tommy Henry (8,595 at Maiden) and Anthony Saunders (7,782 at two schools) on the state’s career yardage list. Parks needs one more touchdown to become the fifth player in state history to reach the century mark.
On the first play from scrimmage against West Craven, Parks scored on an 81-yard carry. It was the longest run from scrimmage for a touchdown in his career. His previous best was a 76-yarder as a freshman in a 23-13 win against Salisbury.
Parks’ longest touchdown was a 95-yard kickoff return as a sophomore in a 53-6 win against North Rowan.
STRONG FINISH: West Rowan’s roster featured three capable quarterbacks, and sophomore B.J. Sherrill wasn’t the clear-cut starter when the season began.
He had a 52-yard touchdown run in the title game.
“Don’t wake me up. Don’t wake me up,” Sherrill said over and over as he stood in the handshake line.
Jon Crucitti and Brantley Horton ended up excelling as receivers.
Horton threw a long touchdown to Crucitti on a wide receiver pass Saturday, but offensive interference negated the play. Crucitti took some snaps at quarterback in the closing minutes and scored on a 10-yard run.
CHIPPING IN: West Rowan sacked West Craven quarterback Brett Mooring twice, and Chris Smith had one to increase his season total to 21.
The other sack came from sophomore Emmanuel Gbunblee, who made two stops behind the line of scrimmage. He contributed a sack and another tackle for loss late in a state semifinal win against South Point.
BOUNCING BACK: Several Division II schools, including Catawba, have expressed interest in the 6-foot-4 Mooring.
He entered Saturday’s game with 36 touchdown passes and eight interceptions on the season, but the Falcons picked him off five times.
For the record, recent Catawba star Brad Roach enjoyed a fine college career even though he had a forgettable prep finale. The 6-6 Roach threw six interceptions as Williamston lost 38-19 to Swain County in the 2001 title game for 1A schools. He was a first-team All-American as a Catawba senior.
A.L. Brown’s fourth-quarter rally against Greensboro Dudley brought back memories of a state championship game involving the Wonders’ biggest rival.
Brown was behind by four touchdowns after three quarters of a 34-18 loss to Dudley in the 3AA final Saturday. The Wonders, who played the entire second half without injured defensive back Billy Simiton, trailed 34-6 until Antwoine Jordan scored a touchdown with 10:47 remaining.
The Panthers couldn’t handle Morgan McDaniel’s angled squib kick, and Mark Goodjohn recovered the ball at Dudley’s 17-yard line. Zach Massey caught a touchdown pass from Jamill Lott with 9:15 left.
A.L. Brown’s Xavier Watson then recovered an onside kick at Dudley’s 46.
“I’m going to call Hal Capps and tell him,” A.L. Brown coach Ron Massey said.
A Capps-coached Western Alamance squad used special teams to cap an improbable comeback against Concord during the 3AA title game in 2006.
Concord led 28-7 with 10 minutes left, and Western Alamance cut its deficit to 28-21 with 1:11 remaining. It recovered an onside kick and tied the game with a 36-yard touchdown pass.
The Spiders fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Western recovered the ball with 22 seconds left. The Warriors missed a short field goal, and Concord won 35-28 in overtime.
KICKING THEMSELVES: A.L. Brown and Dudley combined to score eight touchdowns, but no extra-point kicks were attempted.
Dudley almost always goes for two-point conversions with its potent running attack, and it jumped out to an 8-0 lead.
The Wonders planned to kick after they responded with a touchdown, and the special-teams unit exited the field when Dudley was called for an equipment penalty. The Panthers stuffed a run from the 11/2-yard line.
The Wonders, who allowed 355 yards on the ground, did manage to stop runs on Dudley’s next three conversion attempts. The Panthers were officially 1-of-1 passing for 1 yard in the game, but quarterback Ricky Lewis produced two points with a pass following Dudley’s final touchdown.
TRIPLE THREAT: Lott was an effective receiver as a junior. He displayed his ability to run and throw as a senior.
Lott missed the first seven games of last year with a collarbone injury but finished with 13 catches for 332 yards and two scores. His two carries netted minus-3 yards.
Lott moved to quarterback as a senior and accounted for 36 touchdowns. He threw for 1,929 yards and rushed for 1,065.