Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
The roots of Cody Parker's football career began with trees.
Two large ones, rooted deeply in the Cascade Christian standout's backyard.
The distance between the trees is roughly the distance between the uprights on a goal post. Parker would set his football on a tee and kick between them. It was good practice for an elite soccer player, which Parker was until the sixth grade. The boy with the golden boot followed his friends into the world of Pop Warner, and — ever since — he's been loyal to the gridiron soil.
The 18-year-old Parker has been plenty busy on that surface.
Here's a typical night for the versatile senior: he scores a touchdown (either on a catch or a run — he's a starting wide receiver and running back), he boots in the PAT (he's the team's placekicker), he executes the kickoff and then he remains on the field (he's a starting cornerback).
The 5-foot-11, 150-pound Parker has been Mr. Everything in the Challengers' new no-huddle spread offense, leading the team in receptions with 54, rushing yards (602) and rushing touchdowns (eight).
He's knocked in all six of his field goal attempts, including a school-record 47-yarder. Parker also had a game-winner against Henley.
On defense, he has a club-best four interceptions, including two for scores.
Parker was a first-team Southern Cascade Hybrid receiver, a first-team kicker and a second-team defensive back.
Suffice it to say, it's been a busy life for Jersey No. 4 and the third-seeded Challengers (10-2), who next play No. 7 Vale (10-1) in the Class 3A state semifinals on Saturday in Bend.
"He's a great kid to get the ball to in space," Cascade Christian head coach Jon Gettman says.
Against Illinois Valley earlier this fall, Parker turned in four straight TDs in three different fashions: scoring runs of 13 and 24 yards, a 13-yard touchdown catch from prolific signal caller Seth Knox and a 20-yard interception return.
Parker works on speed training in the winter and does track in the spring. He was on the 4x100-meter relay squad that secured second place at state last season.
In Pop Warner and at Grace Christian School, Parker was a receiver and cornerback. During his freshman year at Cascade Christian, he once practiced alongside former Challenger placekicker Riley Williams (who is now at South Medford).
Parker was nailing 30-yard and 40-yard attempts and the staff took notice, he says.
"Our kicking coach saw me and said I was a natural," Parker recalls.
Parker started at running back and cornerback for the junior varsity team in ninth grade and filled a similar role his sophomore year on the varsity squad.
After Williams transferred, Parker took over the starting placekicker role and was also a first-string receiver and cornerback.
Now he starts at receiver on the right side before mixing in at running back with Jake Brown and Treyson Robbins.
Parker says his route running has improved greatly as the year has progressed.
Parker has 548 receiving yards (45.67 per game) with seven touchdowns. On the ground he owns 78 attempts and averages 50.17 yards per contest with just one fumble.
On defense, Parker says he enjoys "the mind games" associated with lulling QBs. He has 13 tackles to go with his picks.
"I just like to read a quarterback and have a sense of what's happening before it happens," he says.
Oh, and then there are all his extra-point attempts: Cascade Christian averages 39.3 points a game and has scored 45 or more in its last five contests.
"He wants to be on the field and he doesn't want to be taken off the field," Gettman says.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email email@example.com. Find him online at www.facebook.com/danjonesmt or twitter.com/dljcards