Parkinson, Blackhart make strong 1-2 combo
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – There are many reasons why defending regional champion Galena is off to a 6-0 start, and two of those are sure-handed wide receivers Jason Parkinson and Steve Blackhart.
Individually, they are dangerous on their own merits and abilities. Together, they are virtually unstoppable, and arguably one of the best 1-2 receiving combos in Northern Nevada. They make each other better, similar to the on-field relationship Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds enjoyed not too many years ago on the baseball field.
Parkinson has 38 catches for 562 yards and six scores, and Blackhart is at 20 catches for 371 yards and three scores. Only Reed’s duo of Tyler Olivero and Lennox Pierce (59 catches, 990 yards) have been a shade more productive.
“I think we complement each other,” Parkinson said. “He is definitely quicker. I think I’m a little more physical. He can catch the long balls.
“We’ve got a lot of wide receivers, and all the receivers are good. There are so many places Jacob (Anderson) can throw the ball, and the tight ends are good, too.”
Galena coach Steve Struzyk agreed.
“I knew this was a special group,” Struzyk said. “Last year we didn’t use them a whole lot, because we ran the ball. To have five senior receivers … (Chris) Kurnik, Scott Underwood and you can even throw Tanner Golliglee in there.”
The duo has helped quarterback Jacob Anderson immensely. Unofficially, he’s thrown for 1,403 yards and 15 TDs.
“Both started last year, and that really helps a lot,” Anderson said. “Both have come up big when we’ve needed it.”
Parkinson seems to be Anderson’s go-to receiver at least in the first half of the season.
“He’s on the inside sometimes (with Blackhart out wide), so it’s a shorter route,” Anderson said. “He’s more open. He does a really good job of running with the ball after the catch.”
” I like being out there 1-on-1,” Blackhart said. “There aren’t as many defenders near me. We run a lot of quick hits and curls. I can make plays and get first downs.”
And, Parkinson has moved the chains with regularity. He sits down between the linebackers and defensive backs, and while not blessed with breakaway speed, makes defenders miss quite often.
In a 27-14 win over Spanish Springs, unofficially seven of Parkinson’s catches went for first downs. Against Damonte Ranch, six of his eight grabs moved the chains.
“He uses his hands (to catch the ball),” Struzyk. “He’s making people miss. He’s not only catching the ball, but he’s getting yards after that.
“He (Parkinson) has a better feel for the shorter routes. Steve runs them, but Jason has the better feel. Steve makes better breaks on the long ones. A lot of times they run mirror routes. It comes down to what Jacob is reading as to where he’s going to throw the ball.”
Parkinson’s numbers are a testimonial to the work he puts into the game. He stopped playing baseball two years ago, electing to focus on football.
“I spent the off-season lifting weights and working on my hands (catching the ball),” Parkinson said. “It helped a lot.”
Blackhart said he’s noticed a difference in the way teams are defending him this season.
“This year, a lot of the defenses are playing the deep ball,” he said. “They are giving up the shorter ball a lot more. Jason is running a 5-yard route, and that’s an easier throw for Jacob to make.
“I would have liked to have more opportunities. Reed was our biggest game so far, and that’s when I had my best game. You can’t argue with that.”
Blackhart had eight catches for 151 yards, against the Raiders, including an 8-yard scoring pass that snapped a 14-all tie. He also caught a short pass early in the fourth quarter and lateraled to Pete Lazzari, who took it the final 29 yards for a score that put the Grizzlies up by two scores with eight minutes remaining in the eventual 34-21 win.
“I’d give myself a B so far,” Blackhart said when asked to grade himself. “I’ve done a good job. I’ve executed out there.
“Getting vertically up the field is my strength. I have soft hands and I’m good at getting those jump balls.”
Like Parkinson, Blackhart had a busy off-season, attending the Stanford Nike Camp.
“You get to work against the best defensive backs in the West,” Blackhart said. “You improve your game because you are working against people that are better, and it’s better competition than you see during the season.”
Ah competition. Though the two talented receivers are on the same team, they certainly like to out-do each other.
“He (Parkinson) is making it look easy this year,” said Blackhart, who is ranked No. 1 academically at Galena, and hopes to play at an Ivy League school next season. “I have to try and catch up. I’m hoping to get into the 30s at least.”
Struzyk said he would love to see both of his talented receivers continue their playing careers next season.
“Steve has a weighted 4.7 GPA whatever that means,” Struzyk said. “Princeton, Columbia…there are some Ivy League schools interested.
“I think Jason would be a perfect little inside slot guy at a Division 1-AA school. I think he could fit into a system somewhere.”
No doubt neither player is worried about college right now. Their focus is on terrorizing Northern Nevada defensive backs for the next several weeks and making it back to the state playoffs.