CANEY — Searching for a signature win, the Parsons Vikings left their mark against the Caney Valley Bullpups on a charged, bloody and indelible night.
Parsons beat Caney Valley 28-20 in district play Friday, giving the Vikings their second straight win.
“Our kids were locked in, and they were locked in all week,” Parsons head coach Jeff Schibi said. “Us coaches felt it. There were a lot of emotions on the sideline. All night long, you could feel the passion and energy. I couldn’t be more proud as a coach.”
After a first half that featured 41 combined points — Parsons led 21-20 — the Vikings’ defense posted a shutout in the second half.
“I’m so proud of those guys,” Schibi said. “What can you say? The kids continue to prepare themselves. All the hard work we put in during the offseason trying to win the trenches is starting to pay off.”
Facing off against the blue-collar Bullpups’ offense, Schibi mentioned a second half adjustment to keep his defensive ends from being kicked to the outside as a turning point.
“Defending the wishbone, you have to beat the tar out of the guards and tight ends and you can’t let the tackles get a free release to the backers,” Schibi said. “We prepared our guys to take on blocks and blow plays up.”
While the Parsons defense shined in the second half, it was Vikings quarterback Tra Mack that spent the night looking up to the sky.
Mack spent Friday morning at a funeral for his grandfather.
Hours later, he accounted for two total touchdowns, including the game-sealing score midway through the fourth quarter on an 18-yard run.
“I’m just happy. I did it for him tonight,” Mack said. “I told myself I’d win the game, no matter what, for him. I had to put my body on the line. I’m a little beat up, but we got the win for the team and for him.”
Parsons and Caney Valley both left the field in need of healing. Both squads fired off the line and the physicality came to a climax on a targeting penalty against the Bullpups that led to an ejection and game-ending injury.
“That describes the teams in our district,” Schibi said. “We had the same type of battle with Galena. We came out on the short end there, but it prepared us for tonight. I hope people don’t say Parsons football is soft and doesn’t like contact. We were the more physical football team tonight.”
“Losing someone so close to you and having a funeral the day of a game,” Schibi said, “I couldn’t be more proud of how he played. He’s grown tremendously. It’s crazy that a sophomore played the way he did with all he went through.”
A 40-yard run by Dion Sylvester as well as a scoop-and-score on a fumble recovery by Isiah Tyson accounted for the other two Parsons touchdowns.
Caney Valley found the end zone twice through the air on receptions by Gavin Stimpson and another short run by Baylor Thornton.
One of the most critical decisions came late in the game. After Mack’s touchdown run, Schibi elected to kick the extra point and an eight-point lead instead of going for two and trying to swell the lead to nine.
Landon Wheat connected on all four of his extra points for Parsons.
“I was confident we would make the extra point,” Schibi said. “I didn’t want to put us in a situation where if they scored a touchdown and got two points, they’d beat us. Believe me, it crossed my mind to go for two there and go for the jugular.”
Parsons improved its record to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in district play with the win, while Caney Valley dropped to 4-2 and 1-2 respectively.
Parsons returns to Marvel Park for the first time since the buzzer-beating loss to Galena for its homecoming game against the Columbus Titans. Columbus was easily dispatched by Galena on Friday night.
“It’s a battle of two teams with one coming off a great win and another coming off a tough loss,” Schibi said. “Their backs are against the wall, so we have to be prepared for a battle. We’ll celebrate this win, but once the tape stops rolling on Saturday, all eyes have to be on Columbus.”