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Football Playoffs: West Rowan 38, R-S Central 0

By Mike London
mlondon@salisburypost.comMOUNT ULLA ó West Rowan tailback K.P. Parks broke the state career rushing record set by Ragsdale’s Toney Baker on Friday.
“It really is a relief, but I was never concerned about it,” Parks said. “It’s like I told my parents today, ‘I’m not going to go into a playoff game worrying about a record.’ Records are a team thing. You just do your best, you get that win and you see how the game plays out.”
West’s 38-0 victory against R-S Central in the second round of the 3A playoffs played out just right.
Parks finished his night’s work with 244 yards and three TDs. He bumped his career total to 10,253 yards, and when it was over, he shook 10,253 hands and offered 10, 253 hugs to bundled-up West fans.
The stocky Virginia commitment didn’t smile for 10,253 pictures or kiss 10,253 babies, but those numbers were way up there too.
West coach Scott Young called for a basic handoff to Parks on third-and-16 from the West 34 late in the third quarter, and any handoff to Parks is a pretty smart call.
He broke to the right sideline, finally turning upfield and ramming and spinning his way through multiple tacklers for 14 yards and the record. West coaches went crazy. They knew he had it.
Parks pounded for 5 yards on the next snap to open the fourth quarter. That moved the chains, and Parks called it a night with the Falcons in control 35-0. Then he exited to an ovation from delirious fans as P.A. man David Wright made the official announcement of the record.
“Every since he was little, K.P. has had this amazing work ethic and has run with this incredible velocity,” said Arkansas-bound defensive lineman Chris Smith. “Before this game, I looked at each of my teammates and I told them they had an extra role tonight, and that was to help K.P. get the record. He is so humble, such a good teammate. Whatever he needed, we had to do it for him.”
The O-line, very good all year, was great, and got Parks at least a crease on 19 of his 20 carries. Eleven of those carries produced double-digit yards, and he racked up scoring runs of 54, 5 and 37. Offensive coordinator Joe Nixon called his O-line “the dominant unit on the field,” and he’s not a fellow who is easily satisfied.
“Parks is everything everyone said he was ó great running back,” R-S Central coach Mike Cheek said with a sigh and a head-shake. “And that offensive line they’ve got is awesome.”
West (13-0) won its 27th in a row and didn’t do much wrong. B.J. Sherrill threw two touchdown passes to tight end Patrick Hampton to balance the damage Parks was doing on the ground, and the Falcons’ fierce defense overcame nose Eli Goodson’s sprained ankle to throttled the Hilltoppers (9-4) for their fourth shutout.
“Just a real good effort by our guys against a quality opponent that ran for 400 yards against a good South Rowan team last week,” Young said. “We identified three plays on film we needed to stop (veer option, waggle pass and buck sweep) and we were able to limit their offense.
“Offensively, the only time we were stopped was when we didn’t execute. B.J. threw it well, and it’s a relief for all of us for K.P. to have the record behind him. Now we can, hopefully, just go take care of business.”
The next order of business should be a major scrap. Unbeaten, once-tied Asheville, the No. 3 seed, comes to Mount Ulla next Friday.
Parks started the scoring with a tackle-breaking 54-yard run. After Eric Cowan pilfered a pass, the Falcons made it 14-0 when Parks followed Armando Trujillo and Timmy Pangburn into the end zone late in the first quarter.
R-S Central had a chance to make it a game on its next possession, and it mounted a determined drive that peaked at first-and-goal at the West 5.But a fumble cost the Hilltoppers 5 yards. Then a run gained only 2. On third-and-goal from the 8, quarterback Jake Kinlaw rolled, looking for room on the right side. Emmanuel Gbunblee pounded him.
“I met the block, and it was like the quarterback couldn’t decide whether to pitch it or keep it,” Gbunblee said. “I just went and jumped on him.”
On fourth down, R-S Central missed a short field goal, and it was all downhill from there.
“If we score, maybe it’s a different game,” Cheek said. “But we knew coming here we had to be perfect to win. They’re physical and they can throw it. That’s a great football team.”
One Falcon broke a tremendous record Friday, but he carried himself humbly and calmly when it was over.
For Parks, the mission didn’t end.
It’s only just begun.
Still ó 10,253. That’s an unbelievable number.
“K.P. deserves this honor,” tenacious guard Charles Holloway said. “He’s worked for four hard years for this. Now he’s got it, and I’m proud we could help him get it.”
 

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