Parkway football takes steps in 2013

Parkway linebacker Austin Averitt said he knew the current class of 35 seniors could be special when they were freshmen.

Averitt and the seniors took aim at the previous classes’ four-year program record of 38 wins, and now the current class holds that mark at 43 wins.

The Panthers couldn’t add the program’s first state championship and a 44th win with a 77-41 loss to Acadiana in the Class 5A title game, but Averitt said before the trip that this class will be proud no matter the championship result.

“We already know we are the winningest class, and this a great step to get to the Dome,” Averitt said. “We felt like this class was one big family during our freshman season, and we got over the (quarterfinals) curse.

“All of the previous players helped us get to this point.”

Not only is the 43 wins a four-season high, it’s more wins than Parkway had in two separate decades of the program’s history.

The 1970s Panthers won a total of 28 games and the 1990s squads won 30 games.

The 2013 Panthers (13-1) won a single-season record of 13 games and made the school’s first semifinals and championship appearances despite the first four games being on the road because of an LHSAA penalty.

“My overall thought the whole time was how amazing it was that our team was able to play so well every week and be the only undefeated (Class 5A) team in the state coming in,” said Parkway coach David Feaster said after the championship game. “You saw what we had — we had a bunch of little guys that played extremely hard. Some of them were very talented, and guys around them obviously have a lot of speed and a lot of ability.

“A lot of other guys were just the right type of guys that worked hard in the offseason program and do everything we ask. They line up right every time and get after it with great effort. We gave great effort (Saturday), but put us in the class that can’t stop Acadiana. They certainly earned their state championship.”

Acadiana’s 77 points and 634 rushing yards were state records, but it came against a defense that displayed improvement since Bastrop’s 56-point outburst in Week 3.

Parkway allowed 24 points per game in all 14 games, but without Bastrop’s 56 and Acadiana’s 77, the Panthers averaged 17 points allowed in the other 12 games.

Considering Parkway’s offense averaged 48 points and eclipsed the 50-point mark six times, the Panthers were usually playing with the lead.

“Every time we played, fatigue (on defense) was an issue,” Feaster said. “We always score fast and put them in situations where they are right back on the field.

“But this year with 35 seniors, we had more players than almost everybody else we played against. It’s an issue we take into consideration, but so far, we have been able to overcome it with depth.”

Quarterback Brandon Harris, an LSU signee, was the focal point with 3,527 passing yards on 178-of-329 passing and 37 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. Harris broke a Class 5A state record with 355 passing yards in the title game.

His favorite target is receiver Brodrick Jefferson (Louisiana Tech commit), who caught 52 passes for 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns.

Parkway’s offense loses four offensive line starters and the top two pass catchers in Jefferson and Cory Hamilton, but junior running backs Demetrius McAtee and William McKnight will form the core along with quarterback Keondre Wudtee.

The defense loses six starters, including Averitt and defensive backs Marquis King and Dylan Whaley.

The 2013 season is just the third time Parkway has won more than one playoff game, and a young Panthers’ squad hopes to keep that streak alive in 2014.

“As coaches, we want to spend the capital we’ve made,” Feaster said. “There are a lot of good coaches that have trouble getting through to their players because they don’t win football games.

“Now we’re winning, players believe in what we’re telling them, now we have the opportunity to make a difference in their lives. We talk about those values. So (the loss) doesn’t tarnish anything we’ve done. Players are extremely disappointed that we didn’t get it done, but it’s been an amazing season.”

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