Prep Football: Parks’ record worth the wait
By Bret Strelow
MOUNT ULLA ó K.P. Parks, aware he had broken the county’s single-game rushing record, jogged toward the West Rowan sideline following a 9-yard gain to begin the fourth quarter.
Assistant coach Joe Nixon greeted Parks with a bear hug.
“It was a great thing seeing that big smile on his face,” Parks said. “You usually don’t see a smile on Coach’s face like that, and it made me happy. It let me know I did pretty good.”
Parks rushed for 356 yards on 24 carries ó with only the one coming in the final quarter ó as West rolled to a 69-14 homecoming victory against Carson on Friday night.
The old mark belonged to East Rowan’s Cal Hayes Jr., who had 344 yards during a wild win against Jay M. Robinson in 2001.
Parks moved to No. 2 in county history when he ran for 339 yards against Northwest Cabarrus two years ago as a sophomore.
Two weeks ago, he set the state record for 100-yard games in a career. Last week, he established a state record for career carries.
Now add the county’s single-game record to a growing list of accomplishments.
“I’ve been patiently waiting, and finally my chance came,” said Parks, who has 1,908 yards this season and 9,029 in his career. “Good things happen to those who wait.”
The Falcons led 12-6 when Parks set up their third touchdown with a 42-yard run in which he hurdled a grounded defender, shed a tackle at the Carson 30, wiggled out of another one at the 15 and lowered his shoulders to drag several Cougars to the 1. He scored on the next play.
A 41-yard gain preceded a West touchdown that produced a 34-6 lead late in the first half, and Parks went to the break with 13 attempts for 147 yards.
He had 193 before breaking loose for a 74-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter.
“K.P. played about as good as I’ve ever seen him play,” said Carson coach Mark Woody, whose school opened the same year Parks enrolled at West as a ninth-grader. “I’ve seen him run a lot of games and play a lot of games, but he had his ‘A’ game tonight. He looked good.
“I wish him all the best in the world and I’m glad I got a chance to see him play, but I’m damn sure glad he’s gone because he’s doggone good.”
West regained possession at its 17 in the closing minutes of the third quarter, and Parks would have broken Hayes’ record on an 80-yard touchdown run had a flag not dropped at the Carson 19.
A block-in-the-back infraction limited the gain to 61 yards and moved Parks within striking distance of the record.
Members of West’s offensive line ó a group that includes Rodney Cline, Timmy Pangburn, Armando Trujillo, Charles Holloway and Davon Quarles ó repeatedly approached assistant coach Jeff Chapman, the team statistician, to check Parks’ progress.
“They care more than me,” Parks said with a laugh. “The line, they’re like, ‘Come on, come on. We got you, we got you.’ I’m just following their lead, telling them big boys, ‘I’m right behind you, I’m right behind you.’ ”
A 24-yard completion to Jon Crucitti prevented Parks from having a chance to break the record on a drive that ended with 1:23 left in the third quarter.
The Falcons forced a three-and-out, then took over at midfield with 7.1 seconds showing. A 7-yard run increased Parks’ total to 347, and the carry to begin the fourth quarter gave West some wiggle room in case there were any statistical discrepancies.
“Tonight, when we were pretty close, I wanted to know what he had because he was allowed only two more carries,” Pangburn said. “As long as we hit somebody and keep our hands on somebody, he’ll do what he has to do.”