clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Jordan, Parry shine in new adjusted roles for Desert Hills

On August 21, 2015, in the first quarter of the opening game of the season for the Desert Hills Thunder, disaster struck. After star running back and cornerback Nephi Sewell, who was highly recruited entering his junior year, collided with a Jordan High wide receiver, he went down — and didn’t get back up. Something was wrong.

Sewell broke his fourth and fifth vertebrae in his neck, had surgery, and missed his entire junior season. He was told he might not play football again, and his college scholarship offers went up in smoke.

“[We were] devastated. It’s always hard to see one of your brothers go down,” Desert Hills head coach Carl Franke said. “Everyone kept them in their prayers and played for him last year.”

While Desert Hills was shaken to its core by Sewell’s scary injury, they still had a football season to play. With their star running back out, the rushing back duties fell to Marco Jordan and Brock Parry. In 2014, Jordan — then a sophomore — carried the ball ten times for 55 yards. Perry — a freshman in 2014 — didn’t see the field for the varsity team. With Sewell’s injury, both Jordan and Parry were thrust into the spotlight.

“They had been with us in the program, so it’s not like it was a surprise. Eventually, they were going to get carries,” Franke said. “They practiced every day, just like Nephi did to get ready. It’s not like we were taking a linebacker and making him a running back. They were running backs all along, their number was just called a little sooner than normal.”

Jordan scored his first high school touchdown four games into the 2015 season, finishing the game against Hurricane with a score and 59 yards. Two games after, in a matchup against Pine View, Jordan broke the century mark, rushing for 103 yards and two touchdowns in the Thunder’s 36-19 win against the Panthers. Jordan would finish Desert Hills’ 5-4 season with 543 yards and five touchdowns on 142 carries.

Parry’s breakout game in his sophomore season with Desert Hills came on October 23, 2015, against Cedar, in the last regular season game of the year. In the 33-21 win, Parry rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns, showing glimpses of the future. Parry finished 2015 with two touchdowns and 234 yards rushing.

After Sewell healed from his neck injury, he shocked everyone by wanting to play football again.

“There was a lot of rejoice. The kids got excited that they were able to play with Nephi again, and obviously Nephi was really excited to be back with the team,” Franke said. “It’s one of those things where it kind of ignited our team. Anytime you have a player like Nephi Sewell and his caliber of player on the field, it always gives you a better chance to win the game, so everyone is thinking that there is always a chance to win when he’s on the field.”

Desert Hills was cautious with Sewell’s return — in the first four games of the 2016 season, Sewell only carried the ball five times — which meant that Jordan and Parry got to start the beginning of the 2016 campaign.

Through the first four games of the 2016 season, Parry rushed for 294 yards and two touchdowns, and Jordan contributed two touchdowns. When Sewell officially returned on September 23 against Hurricane — rushing for 172 yards and two touchdowns — it helped take some pressure off Jordan and Parry.

“[Jordan and Parry] welcomed Nephi back with open arms, and they weren’t upset about the fact that they weren’t getting carries — as many as they were,” Franke said. “Their role has changed a little bit, but they’re still a big part of what we do.”

With their offense at full strength, the Thunder only lost one game with Sewell, Jordan, and Parry at the running back position.

Going into Friday’s 3AA championship game against Pine View, the trio of Desert Hills running backs have put up impressive numbers. Sewell has rushed for 1,015 yards and 12 touchdowns, Parry for six scores and 649 yards, and Jordan for four TDs and 214 yards.

In the 3AA semifinal game against Stansbury, the Thunder’s run game was on full display. Sewell ran for three touchdowns and 148 yards, while Jordan ran for 63 yards and caught two touchdown passes. Parry chipped in 42 yards and a score.

“It gives me a lot of options in the offense,” Franke said. “Marco is a big, strong kid that runs hard. He’s a real good blocker, Brock Parry’s a real good blocker. [Parry] is a smaller, quicker kid. He’s got quick feet, he’s fast, he’s got great instincts on where to run the football.”

Against Pine View, Desert Hills hopes to keep running — all the way to a championship.