High school football: KP Parks by the numbers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 22, 2020

By Mike London

MOUNT ULLA — Tailback Kevin Parks, universally known as “KP,” graduated from West Rowan in 2010 and last lugged the football for the Falcons in December 2009, but he remains a prominent factor in the national record books, in carries, career yards and career rushing touchdowns.

Tennessee Titans star Derrick Henry, who finished his high school career in Florida three years after Parks, is acknowledged as the all-time prep leader in rushing yards. He broke the longstanding record of Ken Hall, the Sugarland Express, who rushed for 11,232 yards in segregated Texas in the early 1950s.

Henry’s career numbers are massive — 1,397 carries for 12,124 rushing yards and 153 rushing TDs. He averaged 8.7 yards per carry and 252.6 rushing yards per game over the course of his career.

But Parks’ numbers, which triggered legendary Falcon runs of 46 straight wins and three straight 3A titles, are nearly as mind-boggling. Parks actually had one more rushing TD than Henry, as 154 of his 158 TDs came via West’s punishing ground game. Parks had three receiving TDs and he took a North Rowan kickoff to the house as a sophomore. West didn’t use him very much on returns.

Parks’ career was a perfect storm. He ran behind powerful offensive lines and played on teams that threw well enough, especially his junior and senior seasons, to keep opposing defenses on their heels. He played for Scott Young and a great coaching staff. His partners on the defensive side of the ball forced turnovers and three-and-outs at a blistering pace and usually put the ball back in Parks’ hands quickly.

Twice, Parks played 16-game seasons. West went the maximum distance his junior and senior years.

Documenting Park’s career recently was more fun than work. He did amazing things that we may never see repeated.

It’s interesting that his first touchdown on opening night of his freshman year against North Rowan came on a 35-yard pass play in the second quarter. He scored his first rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter that night on a 69-yard gallop.

Parks was durable and could play through some pain. He played in 57 games out of a possible 58. West was 52-5 in those games.

A flip into the end zone against Mooresville late in the final regular-season game in 2007 led to a DQ for the first round of the 3A state playoffs. That was the lone game he missed, and West beat Parkwood without him.

Carries — 232 in 2006, 345 in 2007, 386 in 2008 and 407 in 2009. That’s a total of 1,370, which ranks second nationally to Henry.

Parks’ career high for carries in a game was 40. He reached 40 twice his sophomore year. The Falcons still lost one of those games, a second-round playoff matchup with North Gaston. They won the other 40-carry effort against Davie. In a 28-24 victory over the War Eagles, Parks had all four West TDs and 269 rushing yards.

His career low for carries was six against South Rowan when he was a freshman. That was because it was a 56-0 game. Half of those six carries went to the end zone.

Rushing yards — 1,721 in 2006, 2,536 in 2007, 2,864 in 2008 and 3,794 in 2009. That’s a total of 10,915. Sometimes you see his total listed as 10,895, but that was due to a math error.

He was held under 100 rushing yards twice in his career. His career low of 72 against Anson County ended his freshman season in the second round of the 3A playoffs.

He had 30 career games with between 100 and 200 rushing yards. He had 23 games with between 200 and 300 yards. He topped 300 twice — 339 against Northwest Cabarrus as a sophomore and a county-record 356 against Carson as a senior.

It was intriguing to examine when his touchdowns occurred.

The running clock mercy rule when a team has a 42-point lead at halftime or at any point in the second half wasn’t installed by the NCHSAA until 2014, so in Parks’ heyday, the size of West’s victory margin often depended on the discretion of head coach Scott Young, who showed plenty of mercy in a lot of games in which he could’ve named the score.

Parks sat down many times after West’s first offensive possession of the second half. The breakdown of Parks’ TDs by quarter indicates that he could’ve scored many more had Young been so inclined.

By quarters — Parks logged 49 TDs in the first quarter, 53 TDs in the second quarter, 30 in the third quarter, 25 in the fourth quarter, and one in the overtime win against Lake Norman in 2008.

That’s 102 first-half touchdowns and 56 after halftime, strong evidence that Parks could have made a lot more trips to pay dirt.

Parks was a power back, who got his share of touchdowns from inside the 5, but he also broke long ones. In his career, he accounted for 32 scoring plays of 40 or more yards.

Against Salisbury as a freshman, Parks had a 65-yard touchdown early and a 76-yard touchdown to seal a challenging victory.

Parks’ longest TD from scrimmage was his 81-yard dash against Eastern Alamance on the first snap of the 2008 3A state title game.

Touchdowns by season — 23 in 2006, 33 in 2007, 43 in 2008 and 59 in 2009. He scored 19 touchdowns in West’s five postseason games in 2009, the last five games of his career.

He had five touchdowns before halftime in the 2009 opener against Central Cabarrus when that game was halted by lightning.

As a sophomore, he had four touchdowns in a single quarter against Northwest Cabarrus.

Parks failed to find the end zone in only three of his 57 games. He scored one touchdown four times. He scored two TDs 17 times. He scored three TDs 16 times. He had 10 four-TD games, and those were quite rare before he raised the bar. He scored five TDs in a game four times and scored six TDs against Northwest Cabarrus as a sophomore and against Statesville as a senior.

Statesville played the Falcons in the second round of the 2008 state playoffs, so the Greyhounds faced Parks and his teammates more than anyone — five times.

He was good or great against everyone, but here’s the breakdown of his touchdowns against each school.

Touchdowns vs. opponents — North Iredell (16), Statesville (15), South Rowan (14), NW Cabarrus (14), Mooresville (11), West Iredell (10), Davie (9), East Rowan (9), North Rowan (8), Carson (8), Tuscola (5), Central Cabarrus (5), Eastern Alamance (4), Asheville (4), Salisbury (4), Lake Norman (4), South Point (3), West Craven (3), Freedom (3), R-S Central (3), Franklin (2), Waddell (2), North Gaston (2). Only two schools that he played against kept him out of the end zone — Anson and Carver.

He scored 43 TDs against Rowan opponents in 16 games. He played against North and East three times each and Salisbury twice. Only Carson and South Rowan had to deal with him all four seasons.

Parks scored 33 touchdowns in the playoffs, including five in a tough game against a formidable Tuscola team, and seven in two state championship games against what were obviously quality teams.

Maybe the most amazing number after itemizing Parks’ staggering stats is the number of games West lost in the fall of 2010, the season after he graduated.