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2008 All-County Football: Offensive Player of Year: West Rowan's K.P. Parks

By Ronnie Gallagher
rgallagher@salisburypost.com
K.P. Parks ran the ball 386 times for 2,864 yards this season. What more can be said about the exploits of the 2008 Rowan County Offensive Player of the Year?
Plenty if you’re one of the all-county defensive players who tried to stop him.
Carson linebacker John Mullis, who was one of the top tacklers in the state, could only say, “I think I got a couple of good hits on him.”
He thinks?
Mullis and his teammates held the 5-foot-8 Parks to 198 yards and three touchdowns in a 48-0 West victory.
“He’s like a little cannonball running at you,” Carson defender Jenson Harden said with a sigh. “It’s so hard to get him because he runs so hard.”
“He’s physical,” Mullis added. “You’ll think he’s going to juke you, and he’ll run over you. He’s not afraid to put his head down.”
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A defender can only hope to get a good lick on Parks.
“To be honest,” South Rowan’s Cadarreus Mason said with grin, “I think it’s impossible to get a good hit on him.”
Mason should know. He and fellow all-county Raider Reid Shaver watched Parks have one of his better games against the Raiders in a 56-7 West win. He finished with 234 yards and four scores.
“You can get a good gang-tackle on him, but that’s about it,” Mason said.
Shaver was in attendance at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem when West Rowan won the state championship.
He smiled to himself when Parks took a handoff on the first play from scrimmage and sprinted 81 yards for a touchdown.
“When he broke it, I was like, ‘It’s going to be a long day,’ ” Shaver said.
He could’ve given the West Craven defense some first-hand advice.
“You can’t hit him high,” Shaver said. “He’ll spin right around you.”
Mason wasn’t surprised either, saying, “I should’ve known him and West were going to do their thing.”
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They certainly did in a 69-0 win over East midway through the season. Parks averaged 11 yards on 16 carries.
“He made me look stupid a couple of times,” all-county defensive back Ben DeCelle said.
North Rowan got the first look at Parks in a season-opening 60-0 loss. It was Tasker Fleming’s first game as the Cavaliers’ coach.
No county team held Parks to fewer yards: He had 137. Of course, Parks played only a half and averaged 13 yards per carry.
“The good thing about K.P. is he can be the guy who steps up like he did (against West Craven), but he can be the kid you see as part of the big picture,” Fleming said.
North defensive lineman Javon Hargrave, the CCC Defensive Player of the Year, had a positive memory from facing Parks?
“I stopped him short of a first down,” Hargrave recalled. “That’s a big thing.”
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Shaver’s admiration was obvious once the state championship game was complete.
“I’m glad for him,” he said of Parks. “I’m glad he has another year. I want him to do bigger and better things.”
It’s worth mentioning that Shaver is a senior who won’t face Parks again.
Salisbury, the county’s second-best team, didn’t play West in 2008 but will face Parks next year.
“He’s a great, great player,” Hornets coach Joe Pinyan said. “He can about tell you how many yards he’s going to get.
“He does all the little things. He plays hurt. He takes care of the football. He catches it. I’m sure he can block well, although he doesn’t need to much.”
Does Pinyan have any tricks up his sleeve for the 2009 encounter?
“You can’t contain him,” he said. “I don’t think you can stop him. I hope we find a way to slow him down a tad.”
Good luck.
Probably the toughest job Parks had all season was running against his own defensive line in practice.
“There’s something different about him,” West’s Kenderic Dunlap said. “He was tough to tackle in practice.”
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“Can anybody bring K.P. down?” asked Eli Goodson, Dunlap’s linemate.
Parks can provide the answer to that one. He didn’t hesitate to name the player who gave him the best lick of the season.
“Ben DeCelle,” Parks announced.
Parks was diving for the goal line against East when DeCelle gave him the hardest shot of his season.
“He knocked me into a little tank thing,” Parks said with a laugh. “I remember that. He’s a good ballplayer.”
But those hits were few and far between.
“He’s got that something other players don’t have,” Mullis said. “You have to be ready every play because K.P. will be ready.”
West Craven wasn’t on the first play in the championship game. Parks stunned some fans with that carry, but not the ones from Rowan County who have watched plays like that happen for three years.
“Big-time players,” Pinyan said, “step up when they’re on the big stage.”

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