Prior to his team’s state semifinal football game Saturday evening, Skyview defensive lineman Anthony Chamberlain asked me to come find him after the contest.
Moments after Skyview’s victory over Lake Stevens, I made my way down to the Tacoma Dome field. Chamberlain and his teammates were busy celebrating with their fans.
He noticed me, walked over, and this is what he had to say:
“I told Parker from the get-go, we’re going to get him a ring. We’re on that path. We’ve got one more game to do it.”
Parker is Parker Henry, the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League offensive player of the year and the leading rusher in all of Class 4A Washington football.
It was a touching moment, to hear one player say that he is working to get a championship ring for another player.
It also seemed a bit odd.
Face it: All of the Skyview players want a ring. All of them have worked to get in the position they are in today, one win away from earning a state championship.
Yet none of the players want to let Parker Henry down. None of them want to disappoint him.
Because Parker Henry has never let them down; he has never disappointed them.
This has very little to do with the 2,161 yards rushing and 31 touchdowns this season. It has everything to do with Parker Henry in the weight room, watching game film, being a friend, being a leader.
“He is the epitome of what Skyview football is about,” senior defensive back David Garlington said. “By far, he’s the hardest working and most dedicated person I know.”
I talked to a couple of his coaches. They weren’t surprised to hear Chamberlain’s assessment. Yes, the players all want to win for themselves, for each other, for their program, for their school. But they all also want to win for Parker Henry.
It’s not hyperbole. It’s just the way it is.
In fact, it’s the way it’s always been.
The coaches remember hearing about “the greatest running back in CCYF.” Yes, Parker Henry even dominated while playing Clark County Youth football.
Henry also was a ball boy for the Skyview varsity, long before he was a high school student. The coaches said he worked hard at that skill, making sure he was in the right place at the right time and paying attention.
Trust me, a ball boy who fails to pay attention when his team has the ball is just a bratty little kid slowing down the game, ticking off the game officials. There is a discipline to being a ball boy, and Henry wanted to perfect that, too.
Senior defensive lineman Riley Bockmier knows a thing or two about what it takes to excel. He has endured two knee surgeries in his high school career and had to will himself in the weight room to get back to the game he loves. He believes he is one of the most intense people he knows when it comes to the strength and conditioning. But he cannot say he is the most intense.
“You don’t understand how hard this kid works,” Bockmier said of Henry. “Pound for pound, he is the strongest kid I ever met.”
When Bockmier first noticed Henry’s intensity, he said he was going match it.
“I tried, but I couldn’t,” he said.
Even if it did not come as a surprise, it had to be cool for Parker Henry to be named the 4A GSHL player of the year, as voted on by the coaches. It is special to be recognized for one’s performances.
But it has to be even greater for Parker Henry to hear such praise from his teammates.
Think about it. The Skyview Storm had just advanced to the state championship game for the first time in the program’s history, and the first thing Anthony Chamberlain wanted to talk about was winning it all for Parker Henry.
It’s a good thing for any program to have the best player in the league.
It’s a great thing when that player is the hardest working athlete on the team, the most dedicated to the program, the most everything.
Don’t ask the media. Don’t ask the coaches. Just ask his teammates.
Parker Henry is Mr. Skyview Football.
Paul Valencia covers high school football for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4557 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.