One of the best running backs in Ohio against one of the best running attacks.
Which has more success is what it ultimately might come down to when Orrville (12-2) and Johnstown-Monroe (13-1) meet Saturday at 3 p.m. in Canton for the Division V state football championship at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
Orrville sophomore Marquael Parks has electrified the area this season while zapping opposing defenses with 2,601 yards and 41 touchdowns rushing.
The dynamic Parks, named a first-team All-Ohioan earlier this week, has scored 53 total touchdowns, the second-most in a single season in state history, and he’s done it in every way it’s possible.
The Johnstown defense has a front line with more than 100 combined sacks and tackles for loss, and the Johnnies give up just 77 rushing yards a game.
But J-M coach Mike Carter knows that the 5-foot-9, 155-pound Parks, averaging over 12 yards a carry, is a totally different challenge, with his ability to change directions.
“He’s one of a kind,” Carter said. “He’s a very special young man, extremely quick with good vision, and we have to make sure we play gap-sound defense and we gang-tackle.”
The Red Riders’ offensive line features three seniors — tackles Trevelle Forrest (5-10, 320) and Christian Ross (5-10, 205) and guard Camden Cormany (6-1, 240) — along with juniors in guard Eddie Burns (6-4, 320) and center Coddie Phillips (5-10, 280). The unit has helped Parks to his record-setting season and the offense to rack up 617 points, ranking third among all Ohio teams this season.
“One of the things that goes unnoticed because [Parks is] so dynamic and you watch what he does is the job up front,” Orrville coach Doug Davault said. “Our front five linemen have really had a good year."
Three Johnnie defenders earned All-Ohio honors, led by first-team linebacker Kaden Davis (6-0, 200, sr.), the team leader with 127 tackles along with 20 tackles for loss and three interceptions. Defensive ends Stew Davis (6-3, 200) and Jake Lusk (6-3, 185), both special mention All-Ohioans, have combined for 31 sacks, and 6-2, 250-pound tackle Josh Boso has 19 sacks.
Orrville’s offense has been far from an all-Parks show, as senior quarterback Logan Domer went over 2,000 yards passing for the season in last week’s 38-7 state semifinal win over Liberty Center, with 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions. Jason Suppan (574 yards, 6 TDs) and Donoven Hall (476 yards, 4 TDs) are tied for the team lead with 31 receptions each, and Parks has 23 catches and five TDs.
The Johnnies are more methodical in their run-first offense. In 14 games, Johnstown has rushed for 4,803 yards and thrown just 33 times, completing 22 for only 289 yards.
For the Johnnies, their variety comes in which of three backs runs the ball. Tailback Bryce Barasch, a first-team All-Ohioan, has 2,179 yards on 327 carries (6.7 ypc) and 26 TDs, and second-team All-Ohio quarterback Caden Calhoun has run for 1,533 yards on 191 carries (8 yards per carry) and 15 touchdowns and 6-2, 200-pound fullback Luke Myers has carried it 140 times for 925 yards (6.6 ypc) and 21 TDs.
“They’ve got a really good offensive line, they’re impressive to watch,” Davault said. “They’ve run for over 4,000 yards, so this is what they want to do.”
Under Carter, Johnstown has qualified for the playoffs in 11 of his 17 seasons. The Johnnies came up short in two previous state semifinal appearances, including a loss to Norwayne during the Bobcats’ run to the 2011 state title, before beating defending state champ Wheelersburg 32-14 last week to reach their first state final.
The Riders are making their 23rd postseason appearance. Orrville is appearing in its fifth state final, losing to Columbus Ready in 1983, Columbus DeSales in 1985 and Germantown Valley View in 1994 before capturing the Division IV crown in 1998 with a 23-21 victory over Coldwater.
Until this season, though, the Riders’ last playoff game was back in 2011, which was also their last winning season.