Athletes of the Week: Lathrop’s Parker, Colony’s Nash carry team to victory

Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 9:29 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Different performances by different athletes from different schools led to the same result during week two of the high school football season.

Lathrop senior wide receiver Earl Parker put up video game-like numbers against Palmer, hauling in six catches for 191 yards and five touchdowns in a 54-0 win.

“I don’t know, I was really just going with the flow, and they just threw the ball, so I was like, ‘alright, I got the easy part, just catch the ball and make a touchdown,’” Parker said after his breakout performance, making it sound as easy as he made it look.

Colony two-way star Jack Nash wreaked havoc on both sides of the ball, in one of the program’s biggest wins in recent memory. At quarterback, Nash threw for a pair of touchdowns.

Nash played safety on defense, recovered a fumble, snagged the game-sealing interception, and grabbed another pick that he ran back 75 yards to the end zone.

Nash was responsible for all three of the Knights’ touchdowns in a 24-21 victory over the defending Division I champion East Anchorage Thunderbirds.

“That is a huge win, in my three years since I was a freshman, East has always been the big dogs, they’ve always been the top, so it’s an honor to lead my school to the first big victory,’ Nash said.

Their preparation met opportunity and led to success. Nash was a wide receiver-turned-quarterback this offseason after Colony’s signal caller graduated.

“Harvey [Pullen] could really throw the ball. Harvey is a great young man and then kind of left us with a big void,” Colony head coach Robbie Nash said. “As coaches, we were sitting there talking, we figured we needed to put our most dynamic person, a dynamic kid in that position and so we came up with Jack’s name.”

“Before the season I was stressing about it, quarterback is a whole new position, it is very stressful,” Nash added. “Obviously playing receiver helps, coming in I knew all of the receiver routes, I knew the timing and all that, so playing receiver and [defensive back] that helps as a quarterback.”

As for Parker, he had to wait for a role to open up on a championship roster.

“We went in and we watched film last year and we said, ‘hey look, here’s the reality, this guy is a really good, tremendously talented athlete and I don’t think they have anybody that can cover him,’ so we are going to make sure to take some shots early and often and just see if we can get over the top on him we will keep throwing.” Lathrop head coach Luke Balash said about Parker.

“I knew the team was going to work and I had a big plate to fill, especially with Dean [Silva] and Jarren [Littell] and them leaving,” Parker said of rising to the occasion. “So it was me, Kaine [Clayton] and Marlon [Mease Jr.] and coach Garrius Maiden training us every day in the summer, just putting in the work and the time.”

But with great talent comes great responsibility. Nash was handed Colony’s legacy number of 21, passed down from player to player since the 1990′s.

“It is a real honor getting that as a sophomore,” Nash said, now competing in his junior season. “21, it is the number for Colony, so I knew I was going to have to step up and become a leader.”

Parker is now a senior on a team with expectations of repeating as Division II state champions.

“Just be a leader on the field, keep good sportsmanship, at the end of the day it is a win, but we still have more to go,” Parker added.

Neither athlete describes themselves as a vocal leader, but their mentality on the field is contagious to their teammates.

Nash talked about the backplate he wears, ‘Beware of Dog’. “I’m a dog, like I said I like hitting people, you have to be a dog to lay big blows.”

“Intensity, definitely,” Parker said of what he brings to the field. “Bringing intensity and being excited, every play, taking it to them every play pretty much.”

Nash’s Knights in Division I, and Parker’s Malemutes in Division II, are both eyeing the state title come October. Each team will turn to their reliable playmakers in the process.