High School Sports

Sophomore running back energizes Columbus’ offense as it clinches district title

Explorers' (RB) Henry Parrish jr. #21 runs ahead of Cavaliers' (CB) Jermaine Witherspoon and (DE) Derrius Perryman #10 during the second quarter of the Coral Gables Cavaliers and Columbus Explorers high school football game at Tropical Park on Fri., Oct. 27, 2017.
Explorers' (RB) Henry Parrish jr. #21 runs ahead of Cavaliers' (CB) Jermaine Witherspoon and (DE) Derrius Perryman #10 during the second quarter of the Coral Gables Cavaliers and Columbus Explorers high school football game at Tropical Park on Fri., Oct. 27, 2017. pportal@miamiherald.com

Whenever Columbus’ offense has needed to find its rhythm usually it’s been Henry Parrish, Jr. that provides the spark.

Parrish, Jr. is only a sophomore.

But he’s already well on his way to joining the long-standing tradition of top-notch running backs in Columbus history.

Parrish, Jr. turned in another impressive performance on Friday night at Tropical Park as he rushed for 115 yards on 15 carries, ran for a touchdown and caught another to help the Explorers beat Coral Gables 21-7 and secure the District 14-8A championship.

Parrish is averaging 7.4 yards per carry this season and has 750 yards on 101 carries with 12 rushing touchdowns. Parrish is third in Miami-Dade County in yards behind only Belen’s Don Chaney, Jr. and Monsignor Pace’s Tyrone Douglas.

Parrish is also third in the county in scoring with 15 overall touchdowns behind Chaney, Jr. and Miami High’s Johnny Ford.

“Honestly, I give all the credit to my offensive linemen,” Parrish, Jr. said. “I just want to thank them and the fellowship that we have.”

Parrish, Jr. sparked a sputtering Columbus offense in the second half after it ran only 16 plays in the first half.

Parrish, Jr.’s 24-yard catch and run from quarterback Anthony Arguelles in the third quarter put Columbus (8-1) ahead for good.

Merritt speaks about clinching the district title with a win over Coral Gables and his talented sophomore running back Henry Parrish Jr.

Parrish (5-10, 170 pounds) said he and Arguelles have developed good chemistry on and off the field, which has helped him get comfortable in his first season as Columbus’ feature running back.

Parrish has plenty of speed, which he plans to use to his advantage during track season as well. He is likely to be part of Columbus’ 400-meter relay team, which figures to be among the state’s best once again.

“He is an important part of our machine,” Columbus coach Chris Merritt said. “We feel offensively we have a number of kids that are dangerous. We’re always going to have a great back. He saw the opportunity and stepped forward and put himself in a great position to be one of the best backs in Miami-Dade County. We’re much better with him in there.”

MORE HIGHLIGHTS

▪ Columbus (8-1) will host its first-round playoff game in two weeks after securing their second district title in a row and 15th since 1999.

▪ With the defeat, Coral Gables (3-5) will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since 2011. The Cavaliers entered the week with a 31.71 points average over three points below the final seed in Region 4-8A held by Homestead (34.86), which strengthened its chances with a victory on Thursday. The Cavaliers have one game left against Southwest next week.

▪ Columbus’ defense pitched a shutout in the second half that helped it hang on after its offense finally got some rhythm going.

▪ Robert Crockett, who has five interceptions this season, leveled Gables receiver Rayquan Berry on a sweep play and made several key stops as did Kristopher Trapp.

▪ Jeramy Passmore recorded a sack and Zachary Castano had a game-ending interception.

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