September 3, 2009

South Panola RB searching for state title

When Meridian toppled South Panola's 89-game win streak in the Class 5A state finals last December, Nicholas Parker made a decision: To do everything he could to not experience that feeling again.

After all, it was the only loss of Parker's career, so it's not like he was used to being on the wrong side of the scoreboard. The Tigers running back and Rivals.com four-star prospect devoted himself in the offseason and continues to put his team first this fall.

That's a good thing for the South Panola faithful, but it may mean a slow period for news when it comes to Parker's recruitment.

"Last year hurt, and we're working to win it all again," Parker (6-foot-2, 210) said. "It's a pride thing, and it's all that matters right now. We've been on the same page, and so far we've had a good start.

"Recruiting was good over the summer, and I'll pick it up later."

South Panola is 2-0 with blowout wins over Petal and Northwest Rankin. Parker has 190 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the young season, but his individual accolades have currently taken a backseast to team success. The run-first Tigers are using a trio of running backs this fall, in an effort to keep Parker fresh and throw some different looks at opponents. Senior Domonique Carother and junior Quyundairs Griffin are the other primary weapons at tailback.

"We can all play, and this is going to help down the road," Parker said. "I'm still getting my touches, but we can pound the other team for four quarters and not lose a step."

While quarterback Lee Self was 11-of-11 in the season opener against Petal, South Panola remains a rushing offense, and there are a few new tricks with this season's squad. The Wildcat formation has reemerged at the college and professional levels, and the Tigers are giving it a go as well. Parker and junior Kendrick Market are the main drivers of the difficult-to-defend formation. The package is popular with Parker, and the senior is well aware of Ole Miss' tendency to make the formation a fundamental part of its offense.

"It's really neat and a tough thing to stop," Parker said. "I like running it, and I've seen Ole Miss do good things with it. I've thought it would be cool to do the same thing over there."

Parker's family would like the No. 19 running back nationally to stay close to Batesville, Miss., and Parker picked up three offers over the summer that allows him to play major college football and suit the relatives. Ole Miss, LSU and Mississippi State are firmly at the top of his thoughts on the next level. Parker grew up a fan of the Rebels, and when Ole MIss offered, the nearby school became a serious contender.

"They make sure I know they are high on me," Parker said. "Coach (Kent) Austin stays in contact, and although they've got some good backs and are recruiting some other ones, I know they're there for me. I always have a good time around there."

At one point, Parker named LSU his leader but has since backed off that statement. Still, the Tigers are a major threat.

"You have to think about LSU, when they send that offer," Parker said. "I've seen them win a lot of games on television, and it's something you think you might want to be a part of."

Parker also has offers from Tennessee and Southern MIss, but it could be difficult to break into that top three.

"I'll take some visits later on, and I need to really focus on those schools at the top when the time comes," Parker said. "Hopefully we'll win another state championship, and it'll be an easy decision on where to go. I have a good group to pick from."

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