By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider
Joe Parker’s introduction to the center position came on the fly about seven years ago.
Parker’s father, George, needed a center for his Cornwall Youth team and turned to his son. Not that he had a choice, but Joe accepted the assignment, which is a credit to his selflessness.
Seven years later, Joe Parker is still under center, even though he could have made a run for a more glamorous position years ago.
“I really decided to stick with the center position in eighth grade,” said Parker, now a junior. “I saw that we really didn’t have a lot of players at the position in the program, so I stuck with it. Playing the position is something that I take a lot of pride in.”
Parker doesn’t just proudly play center, he plays it undersized. He checks in at 5-foot-8, 195 pounds. Parker regularly gives up 50-plus pounds to defensive linemen in the trenches. However, Parker and the rest of Cornwall’s offensive line have made all the blocks this season, helping the Green Dragons to the Class A state championship game.
The Green Dragons (11-0) will take on Buffalo’s West Seneca East for the title at 3 p.m. on Friday at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
“Joe is one of the toughest kids out there,” Cornwall interim coach Eric Holzapple said. “He’s going up against some big boys out there, some have been as big as 300 pounds. But he never gives in and he is such a smart player. Joe makes the calls out there and has never had an issue with a snap. He likes to be physical and relishes the challenge.”
Added Cornwall quarterback Aidan Semo: “I love Joe. I don’t think most kids would take his job, but that just speaks to what a great kid he is. Joe has a quiet personality and doesn’t say much, but he gets the job done like the rest of our offensive line.”
Parker credits much of his success to his experience as a wrestler. He wrestles at 195 pounds for the Green Dragons and said that the footwork he utilizes on the mat serves him well in the trenches. What he lacks in size on the line, he makes up for in quickness and athleticism.
Parker, a first-year starter on the football team, also pitches and plays catcher and third base for Cornwall’s baseball team. Then there is his toughness. Parker credits his no fear mentality on the line to his father, who is an NYPD retiree.
“My dad always taught me to get the job done,” Joe Parker said. “That’s just how I was raised. That’s what I try to do on the field and I’m having a lot of fun. I take a lot of pride in getting yards and when teams can’t stop us. We just hope to keep that going.”
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