Prep Preview 2014: Granville Central chases Tar-Roanoke title
The bad news for Granville Central football 2014: No more Bryce Parrott.
The good news: There’s young talent and the Panthers are on the rise.
Against Southeast Halifax last season, Parrott rushed for two touchdowns, made 16 tackles, blocked a punt and forced a fumble. That’s Bryce Parrott.
And both Parrott and some of Granville Central’s other weapons from a year ago are gone.
The Panthers have to find a way to replace 90 percent of the team’s scoring, receptions and carries, Granville Central coach John Hammett said. And he said they’ll have to do it with a small senior class.
“(The) team will be mostly juniors and sophomores,” Hammett said. “Need some younger players to contribute.”
Granville Central last season was 7-5 overall, 4-1 in the Tar-Roanoke 1-A Athletic Conference. It was an identical record from the prior season and a vast improvement from 2012 when the Panthers were 2-11 and 1-4, but that was in the now defunct Carolina 12 1-A/2-A Conference.
Before reclassification moved Granville Central to the 1-A level, the Panthers took their lumps in 2-A ball, which included an 0-11 season in 2009. Granville Central went 0-4 in the Carolina 9 1-A/2-A Conference that year.
The Panthers have a total of 12 wins in school history. Granville Central, located in Stem, opened in 2007 and for years had to play 2-A schools with larger talent pools even though it had 1-A enrollment numbers.
Granville Central returns six starters to its spread offense. All-conference quarterback Jeremy Parker is back for a third campaign and is in the conversation to emerge as the player of the year in the conference, Hammett said.
Parker, a junior, has started every game of his high school career. In 2013, he threw for nearly 2,500 yards, 30 touchdowns and completed 59 percent of his passes, the best numbers among the state’s 1-A quarterbacks, Hammett said. Parker was intercepted nine times.
As a freshman, Parker threw for 1,500 yards, Hammett said.
“He is a fierce competitor and understands the game,” Hammett said.
Targets for Parker include senior wide receivers Naize Young and Logan Hill. Young caught 10 passes for 192 yards and four touchdowns in 2013.
“Naize has worked hard and is ready to assume a larger role in the offense,” Hammett said. “Logan missed 2013 with an injury suffered in a scrimmage. He started as a sophomore, and he will need to lead our young wide receivers.”
Granville Central’s 4-3 defense returns three starters, including senior defensive back Anthony Hardy, who will be a four-year starter.
Senior linebacker A.J. Cearnel is a linebacker with great instincts and some serious wheels, Hammett said.
“A.J. needs to step up and be the leader of the defense,” Hammett said
Hardy actually will need to spend some time on offense at running back, Hammett said.
“Anthony has averaged eight yards per carry during his career but had injuries during his sophomore and junior years that took him off the field for stretches,” Hammett said. “If Anthony works hard, he could be a special player.”
Senior Triston Lumley also will play on both sides of the ball for the Panthers. He can carry the ball out of the offensive backfield and patrol the defensive backfield.
“Triston is the hardest working player in the program,” Hammett said. “A little bit of a tweener in terms of size, but he plays hard and will not be outworked.”
Put all of that together and Granville Central should be atop the conference at the end of the season, Hammett said.
PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEWS: This is the second in a 17-part series taking a look at our area high school football programs. The previews will run daily from through Friday, Aug. 22, opening night of the 2014 season.