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Parker's patrol
Eastside linebacker looks to stop Creekview run

COVINGTON - When opponents have the ball, it seems like Eastside's Hunter Parker is called over and over again on the public address system.

Of course, when you lead the team in total tackles (112), solos (44), assists (59), forced fumbles (3), quarterback pressures (12) and big plays (11), there's a reason that happens.

While there is no doubt that he's a big man on the field, off the field it's a different story for the 5-foot-7, 175-pound linebacker.

But don't let his size deceive you - Parker is arguably the most rugged player on the Eagles defense.

"The No. 1 reason is because he's tough. He's the toughest kid we have," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "He's fearless, tough and just has a great mental attitude about not letting size get in the way.

"He's a run plugger and does a very good job of sticking his head in there and taking care of the run. He also gets off blocks well which is good because a lot of times they'll get people up to him and he has the good sense to get off the block and make the play."

When Parker goes up against Creekview in the first round of the Class AAA state playoffs Friday night, he will be looking at something similar to what he sees in practice, as the Grizzlies, like Eastside, run a variation of the Wing-T.

Although they both run the spread, they are not the same.

"We run out of the shotgun and they're totally under center all the time," Hurst said. "That's one big difference. They try to run the speed sweep just like we do, that's the biggest similarity."

When he's on the field, Parker is Eastside's defensive leader. He is responsible to make sure the defense lines up correctly.

The one thing Parker has to do is make sure he's reading the proper keys and not concentrate on the Creekview backfield.

"We can't just look at the backfield," Hurst said. "It's like our offense, there's a lot of deception there. If you get caught looking in the backfield, you're in trouble, You have to read your keys. If we do that, we're going to be OK."

The goal for Parker, along with the rest of Eastside's defense, is to take away Creekview's bread and butter, the running game.

"Where we have to be successful is making them get into things they don't want. Long yardage or maybe behind in the score where they have to come back throwing the football," Hurst said. "They're effective throwing the football, but everything is based off their running game. If they have to throw it every down, that's not something they're used to doing."

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.