By Chris Parker
Parkview football climbed back above .500 last year for the first time since 2014. The Vikings finished with a 6-5 record. Their season ended with a loss in the district championship game to Carthage.
Graduation hit the Vikings hard. Parkview returns just 379 of last year’s 4,959 total yards of offense this year.
The lead of that group Parkview must replace is the reigning Ozark Conference Offensive Player of the Year Blake Delacruz. Delacruz rushed for 1,928 yards and 24 touchdowns while catching 14 balls for 106 yards and another touchdown. He will play for Harding University this fall.
“He was an extension of us on the field. He knew what our expectations were for everybody, and that trickled down from him to everybody else. He communicated that to everybody else. He held everyone on the team to the expectations that we had,” Parkview Head Coach Ben Dougherty said. “We still have guys who want to model their work ethic after what Blake did in terms of how hard he worked.”
Dougherty wants last season’s result to become the norm for Parkview, and not an occurrence every few seasons.
“We don’t want this (a winning season) to become an every two or three year thing. I think to get it (winning) consistent and to build that expectation in the kids they have to expect to win. That is what our motto for the year is to expect to win,” Dougherty said. “It just needs to be an expectation that they are going to compete to win and have a chance to win every time they step on the field.”
Defense might be the strength for the Vikings this year led by senior defensive end Ja’veo Toliver. Toliver, who has been offered by Missouri State, had 75 total tackles last year with eight tackles for a loss and five sacks. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound star also finished second on the team with seven passes defended despite playing on the defensive line.
“He (Toliver) is going to be, in my opinion, our best player. He is also probably our best leader this year,” Dougherty said. “He has great burst off the ball. He is a very explosive force who plays hard every single down. He is the first guy you want getting off the bus when you are going somewhere because he is the guy that gives that intimidation factor.”
Brendan Hudson returns to start on defense. The senior had 79 total tackles last year, which was third on the team. He defended a team-high nine passes. Hudson will move from linebacker to free safety where his speed will be key for the Vikings.
Junior defensive end Isaiah Dejong is the final returning starter for Parkview. Malik White and Adam Daugherty will round out the defensive line on the interior.
Junior Ty Townsend and sophomore Isaiah Farley will join Hudson in the secondary. The linebacking corps will be led by sophomore Brayden Howell.
Offensively, Parkview will have a completely new look.
Shemarr Rogers will be the key piece of the offense in his junior year. Rogers caught 13 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns last year.
“He is going to be our focal point on offense. He is going to be the guy we are trying to get the ball,” Dougherty said. “He is very fast and quick.”
Anthony Green and Chance Terrill will be two more receivers to watch.
Senior Nardo Trout will look to step into the role of lead running back. He carried the ball 13 times for 149 yards and one touchdowns last season.
Sophomore Caden Burks will lead the offense after spending last year as the back-up varsity quarterback and junior varsity starter.
“He has a very large desire to be good. He is a film junkie. He likes to work out. It is a good thing that we are getting him in there as a sophomore because it is just going to be that much more experience for him as a starter when he becomes a senior,” Dougherty said.
Up front, senior Bryce Mueller and junior Devin Holt return to their guard positions on the offensive line. Juniors Nick Litchy (right tackle), Jaren Haynes (left tackle) and Kendrick Edwards (center) will be the newcomers to round out the offensive line.
Dougherty has just three seniors slated to start on each side of the ball, so Parkview will be looking to show growth throughout the season and peak for the district playoffs.
“I’m not going to look at the win total, but I want to see improvement from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. I want to see kids who are competing on the field every snap. If I see that and see that we are getting better regardless of how many games we win, then that is going to be a win for us,” Dougherty said. “We lost a lot of talent, but I think we still have the pieces to remain competitive in every game we play.”
Parkview opens the season on Aug. 30 at Central.