SCHENECTADY — Before this football season, Rodney Parker’s history as a varsity running back was brief, and not all that successful.
“Last year, I played defensive end, and I had a couple of plays on offense,” the Holy Trinity junior said. “The first time, I fumbled. I got eight yards and a guy hit me.”
Parker has been hitting back this year as the Pride’s starting running back, using his 6-foot-2, 220-pound frame to his advantage against defenders.
And, oh yeah — he has yet to fumble on 72 carries.
“He is trying to punish you, and 90% of the time he’ll still end up breaking that tackle,” Holy Trinity senior quarterback Joe Tortello said of his teammate. “He gives us a different look.”
That would be the power back the Pride didn’t have last year. This power back has speed, too, which he displayed on a 90-yard touchdown run early in the season against Cobleskill-Richmondville.
“When coach [John Barber] told me I’d be the main running back, I was excited,” Parker said.
Parker played only three games as a sophomore while recovering from fractured growth plate in his right knee, an injury he sustained while blocking a shot in a summer basketball game. A season of Pop Warner football was the only other football experience the 16-year-old had.
“Coach was asking me to play since I was in sixth grade,” said Parker, who is a member of the Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons boys’ basketball team. “The guys were always asking me.”
And the guys, Barber said, get a kick out of watching Parker run with the ball.
“They all get excited when he’s in there,” Barber said after Saturday’s 47-13 Section II Class B quarterfinal win over Broadalbin-Perth. “They’re all good friends. It’s, ‘Rodney’s going in.'”
Parker led Holy Trinity with 60 rushing yards Saturday on eight carries, and upped his season total to a team-high 711 yards. His 4-yard touchdown run broke a 7-7, second-quarter tie and began a string of 34 consecutive points for Holy Trinity as the Pride (7-1) pulled away and earned a semifinal date this Saturday at Glens Falls (8-0).
“It felt good,” Parker said of his fifth rushing touchdown. “It felt great.”
Parker missed most of Holy Trinity’s 56-8 win over Albany in Week 6 and all of the Pride’s 35-22 loss to Schalmont in Week 7 due to cracked bone in his left ankle. His return, Barber said, was a welcome one.
“He can do a lot of things,” Barber said. “He is a powerful back with great feet. On screens, he has the good hands. On play-action, he seals the edge. When he blocks, he pops you.”
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.
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Categories: High School Sports, Sports