As if Austin Parker’s numbers weren’t gaudy enough last year, the East Hall High quarterback is outdoing himself in 2017.
Parker threw for 307 yards and six touchdowns, even adding an 18-yard scoring scramble, all in the first half as the Vikings rolled to a 60-7 win against Johnson High on Friday night at Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium in Oakwood.
After throwing for 27 touchdowns and more than 2,700 yards last season, the senior has already racked up 1,138 yards and 18 touchdowns with only one interception through three games this year.
“I wouldn’t say I really care about stats and numbers,” Parker said. “I hear about them from my coaches and teammates, but that stuff just doesn’t matter me. At the end of the day, I’m way more concerned with wins and losses.”
The Vikings (2-1) picked up a win Friday night largely because of Parker’s contributions.
He heaved three touchdowns of 58 yards or more and spread his 11 completions on 16 attempts to five different receivers, four of whom caught touchdowns. East Hall led 54-0 at halftime before pulling its starters.
Opposing quarterback Sam Corbett threw just three passes but gained 114 rushing yards on 19 carries. He scored the Knights’ only touchdown, a 5-yard plunge in the third quarter, and also scampered 32 yards for his team’s longest gain of the game.
“Corbett is such a tough, physical runner,” East Hall coach Bryan Gray said. “That kid plays really hard, and we were fortunate to tackle him as well as we did. Johnson should be proud of him because he’s a special player.”
The Vikings scored on eight of their 25 first-half plays, and the first was their most explosive. Junior running back Cambren Harrison, who finished with 108 yards on five carries, took the first snap from scrimmage 78 yards for a touchdown.
Senior receiver Sedrion Morse caught touchdowns on of 11 and 58 yards on East Hall’s next two drives, the first coming on a beautiful jump ball in the corner of the end zone. After forcing their third straight three-and-out, the Vikings scored again when Parker hit senior receiver Amir Ellison for a 63-yard touchdown.
Despite picking apart Johnson’s secondary, the senior quarterback quickly credited his offensive line and receivers for the team’s success.
“That’s just how Austin is,” Gray said. “That’s why everybody loves him so much. He’s a true leader and extremely selfess, always trying to get other guys involved in the offense.”
The Knights (0-4) mounted their best first-half drive late in the first quarter, ripping off first downs on three consecutive plays. Johnson marched all the way into the red zone before coming up just inches short on fourth down.
Parker notched scoring plays on East Hall’s next three possessions — a 69-yard pass to sophomore Mon Prather, an 18-yard scramble and a 16-yard screen to Ellison, who broke about three tackles weaving through defenders before being pushed into the end zone by teammates.
Junior Kylan Curry recovered a backward pass to set up Ellison’s second score. Parker closed the half by taking advantage of great protection to find senior Austin Brock streaking across the back of the end zone.
“Our receivers, our offensive line, our ability to run the ball — we’ve all grown so much,” Parker said. “All the work we put in over the summer is really showing itself now.”
The Knights opened the second half with an 11-play drive capped by Corbett’s 5-yard touchdown rush. Junior receiver Erik Madera sent fans to their feet when he laid out for a 26-yard reception during the possession, and Johnson also blocked three extra points.
But East Hall still held its opponent’s option attack in check for most of the night, another huge stride for a defense that gave up 72 points in the season opener.
“I’m very happy with how we defended,” Gray said. “We gang-tackled and we pursued well.”
Freshman quarterback Gionni Williams gave the Vikings their final score on a 13-yard rush in the fourth quarter.
East Hall travels to Jackson County next Friday for its final non-region game. Johnson has an open date before starting Region 8-5A play against Flowery Branch on Sept. 22.