Parlier wrapping up strong season as Unaka fullback

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR CORRESPONDENT

   It's not exactly been that great of a season for the Unaka Rangers this year, but one guy who has worked hard and made a difference is junior fullback Joey Parlier.
   A total of six games in which he has rushed for more than 100 yards this season has put Joey at the top of the rushing chart for Unaka.
   "Personally, I've had an all right season, but I wished we could have had more wins than anything," said Parlier.
   After being all-conference last year, expect Joey to receive honors this season also, since he is one of the premier players on the squad.
   Parlier has compiled a total of 999 rushing yards so far, and this week against Cloudland he is sure to surpass the 1,000-yard mark.
   "I'm just looking to go out there and play hard, and let it all hang out," said Parlier.
   There probably wasn't much expectancy that the Rangers would have a rusher to gain as many yards as Parlier has, but with a hard-nose attitude Joey has defied the odds.
   "I really didn't go into this season looking to gain a lot of yards," Parlier said. "The only thing I'm concerned with is whether we win or not."
   Parlier feels like he's improved in the past season, but he and other teammates plan to work even harder in the off-season than in years past.
   "We just need to work extremely hard in the off-season," Parlier said. "We've got a good group of players, but we need to go out and get it done now."
   Although not nearly the biggest guy on the team, Joey is regarded as one if not the strongest, and it has shown in his in his ability to bust through the line.
   "I have gotten stronger this year than what I have been in the past," Parlier said. "I've been running hard and breaking some tackles, plus my speed has picked up a little."
   Unfortunately, Joey has been plagued by a knee injury for the past couple of years, which has forced him to wear a knee brace that has somewhat affected his mobility and speed.
   "The knee brace has hindered my speed, so I talked to the trainer and he said he felt like there was no reason I needed to wear it, and now I'm playing without it," said Parlier.
   With only one senior on the Unaka squad, Parlier has had to assume the role of one of the team leaders toward the younger guys.
   "I've tried to be a leader for the team, but I need to step up a little more along with some other guys on the team to help rebuild this program," said Parlier.
   Next year there should be quite a bit of experience, as there will be several seniors that have played together through their four years at Unaka.
   "We need about 15 different leaders on the team," Parlier said. "Many of us will be seniors next season, and we have to start winning so we can get the young kids out wanting to play."
   One teammate that Parlier would like to see improve more than anyone is quarterback/tailback Brandon Irick.
   "Brandon has played well for us so far, and I would like to see him not get down on himself and start throwing the ball better," Parlier said. "I think he's very capable of doing it."
   If there was ever a team player, then Joey might be the best description of doing what it takes to benefit the team.
   "I'll play anywhere," Parlier said. "Even if I was told to go play guard, I would tell the coach to just run it in behind me. That's how much I like being out there."
   One interesting scenario with Joey is that his coach Mike Ensor is not just a coach, but he is also his uncle.
   "He's really no different than anybody else I've played for, because out on the field he's nobody other than my coach," Parlier said. "But now at home he's Uncle Mike."
   As far as how "Acie" feels about Joey, he is very proud of how he always does whatever he asks him to do.
   "I'm proud of him," Ensor said. "I probably don't tell him that a lot, but he does whatever I tell him to do."
   Joey has become someone Mike can count on, even though he was a little displeased with him after the first game of the season.
   "I blasted Joey in the newspaper after the first game of the season, and I probably expect a little more since he's my nephew," Ensor said. "But he came out after that and stepped it up, plus he works hard and I respect him for it."
   If you're planning to stop Unaka's offense, then you better key on #40, for he's definitely going to touch the ball and grind out the tough yards.
   "A lot of teams have put emphasis on stopping him, but no matter if he's being asked to run the ball or block for someone else, the kid just likes to play, and you'll never hear anything out of him," said Ensor.