It wasn’t a touchdown run. It wasn’t even the longest rush of the game. But when sophomore Anthony McCrimmons took a handoff from Anthony Gilliland and slashed left for 17 yards, the Parkview faithful roared as loudly as they had all night.
McCrimmons’ older brother, Michael, and his former Vikings teammate Diondre Johnson - who were both killed in a car accident last December - had their memories honored before the Vikings steamrolled Waynesville 55-21 at JFK Stadium Sept. 14.
Johnson and the older McCrimmons were instrumental in the revival of the Parkview football program, playing on the team that snapped the school’s 58-game losing streak. That torch has been passed to the younger McCrimmons and a talented crew of Vikings who are now 4-0 on the season.
“It was really a good moment,” said sophomore wideout Connor Ratcliff. “I was really hoping he’d get the touchdown and make the team even more hyped.”
McCrimmons and Johnson were on the minds of the Vikings all night, and some of Parkview’s coaches had Sharpied the player’s jersey numbers onto their hats. After the pre-game ceremony, one assistant coach told the players “You’re not playing for yourself anymore. You’re playing for the memory of something better.”
“Before the game I wanted to get Anthony in there,” said Parkview head coach Anthony Hays. “I thought it would be a great way to honor his brother and his family, and our guys wanted to get him in. He popped a long one there, and I thought he was going to go (for a touchdown). I was happy for that young man tonight.”
The outcome of the game was never in doubt, as the Vikings came out throwing and piled up a 20-0 lead late in the first quarter. Sophomore wideout Connor Ratcliff played a big role in the opening charge, catching a screen in the left flat and tunneling down the sideline for a 19-yard touchdown and a 6-0 Vikings lead three minutes into the game.
His 27-yard catch-and-carry set up a 2-yard plunge by Cole Jenkins that pushed the lead to 13-0 less than four minutes later. Roland Sanders had Parkview’s third touchdown of the period, racing down the right side and hauling in a 38-yard strike from Landon Ruff.
“I just caught the ball and looked for my blockers, and my blockers really helped me,” said Ratcliff, who finished the night with 8 catches for 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns. “We’ve wanted to pass, and it finally didn’t rain. The ball was a lot easier to catch tonight.”
And that made the coaching staff’s job a lot easier, too.
“We wanted to open the playbook a little bit,” said Hays. “We got frustrated the previous two weeks with the weather. I get super conservative when there’s rain, so our receivers were antsy and we felt like we could take pressure of Jenkins and our backfield by throwing it a bit. We wanted to get Landan warmed up by throwing some screens.”
Waynesville, meanwhile, was plagued my penalties. Three flags - totaling 20 lost yards - helped stall their first three drives and left them with a big mountain to climb.
“We just couldn’t get any momentum going,” said Waynesville coach Rick Vernon. “We had a long run called back on a penalty. If we get that one, it changes the complexion of the game a bit.”
Warren Womack’s two-yard dive got the Tigers on the board with a minute to play in the half, and Waynesville took momentum into the locker room after a last-second field goal try by the Vikings fell short.
But they couldn’t capitalize. Braden Rohrbraugh sacked WHS’ Dylan Newcomb to kill the Tigers’ first drive of the second half, and an electrifying 40-yard run by Jenkins put the game effectively out of reach.
The senior running back took an option pitch from Ruff, but found himself hemmed in on the left sideline. No worries. He cut back right, found a seam to the sideline and motored in for a 40-yard touchdown to give Parkview a 27-7 lead with 4:47 to play in the third quarter.
Gilliland’s 33-yard touchdown pass to Chris Hargrove ballooned the lead to 41-7 before Womack tallied his second TD of the night - a six-yard run - for Waynesville. That set up an unlikely touchdown for the Vikings, as Hargrove couldn’t catch the ensuing kickoff. Unfazed, he scooped up the loose ball, and ran it 83 yards for a touchdown.
A 10-yard run by Waynesville’s Willie Parker and a 25 yard option scamper by Gilliland closed out the scoring.
Ruff finished the night 14-for-16 passing, for 220 yards and three scores. Jenkins rushed 14 times for 93 yards and a score.
“I thought (Ruff) had a great night throwing the ball,” said Hays. “When we get things going with Cole and our receivers, we’ve got a pretty darned good offense.”
Womack’s 17 carries for 77 yards and a score led Waynesville (1-3). Alec Tebbe completed 6 of 8 attempts for 56 yards for the Tigers.
“Our kids always play hard,“ said Vernon. “We’ve got some young very young kids right now and we’re trying to get better as the weeks go along. I think we got better tonight than we did even last week. As long as we keep progressing.”
Parkview High School honored the memories of former players Michael McCrimmons and Diondre Johnson before the Vikings' game with Waynesville Sept. 14.