PORTSMOUTH — If you look at Portsmouth’s roster, the first name and number listed jumps straight off the page.
No. 1, 5-foot-10, 198-pound running back Talyn Parker … yes, the same Talyn Parker opposing defenses have had nightmares about since he gave them fits him last fall.
And, maybe rightfully so, there’s a belief out there that Talyn Parker is the only name that matters when you face the Trojans this season. He earned that respect with his 2,530 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns as a junior.
But he’ll be the first to tell you that if you do believe that, you’re mistaken.
Coming into this fall, Portsmouth will have to find players to step up into holes left by graduated seniors. It isn’t anything different than what anybody else is facing this summer. But it is a challenge Parker says his coaches and teammates have embraced.
After all, after clinching their first playoff berth since 2007, the Trojans’ expectations haven’t changed. In fact, they’ve gotten higher.
“As a team, we’re hoping to go farther than last year and accomplish more,” Parker said. “We lost a lot on the offensive line. It’s going to be tough but we’re up for anything. We’ve been in the weight room all summer and working hard. I think that’s going to be a big part of this season.”
Individually, Parker has also set high goals. While being recruited by multiple Division I collegiate programs, the shifty back can’t afford to slow down his progression as a player.
“My expectations this year … I’m like 700-some yards away from the all-time rushing record,” Parker said. “So 1,500 yards for me this season would be great. It’s my senior year, so I’m going to ball out.”
He isn’t the only one.
Teammate Tyler McCoy had a breakout year as a junior, aiding the Trojans to a 7-4 finish. He was imperative to the team’s success on both sides of the ball, at fullback and linebacker.
Now a senior, McCoy knows he has to assume a leadership role. Like Parker, his goal is another playoff berth … and then another win. The backfield duo is on the same page.
“We want to go one more game into the playoffs,” McCoy said. “We want to try and make it to Week 12 and just keep grinding. We’ve got a lot of guys back.”
If Portsmouth can indeed head back to the postseason, it’d be the first back-to-back playoff appearances since the 2001 and 2002 seasons.
To do so, second-year coach Bruce Kalb will have to lead the team through a schedule that includes non-conference dates with Valley, West and River Valley. Then, the Trojans’ Ohio Valley Conference schedule starts with Rock Hill in Week 4.
Portsmouth officially kicks off its season at 7 p.m., Aug. 29, a Thursday, hosting Valley.
“It would be nice to get the conference title, just for Portsmouth in general,” McCoy said. “It would be pretty cool to have back-to-back playoff years. [Kalb] is a really good coach, helps with offense and defense, and just knows the game. We’ve got the same motivation to keep aiming high this season.”
© 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved