In Class 1A-4A, it is common for teams to use a player on both the offensive and defensive sides of the football.
The practice is routine at those levels as a result of overall numbers.
But that idea is not exhibited nearly as much at the 5A-6A levels. Those schools have a much larger number of kids on their football team, which allows them to utilize their overall depth and deploy a different player at each of the 22 positions.
Harker Heights head coach Jerry Edwards does not care about norms or trends. All he is concerned with is wins.
That is why you will see C.J. Parker play tight end and defensive end for the Knights (3-1), and Madu Eneli will be featured at linebacker and running back.
“It’s always been my philosophy to get the best 11 on the field,” Edwards said. “We feel like those two guys provide us a spark on both sides of the ball.
“We do have to keep them rested, but when the game is on the line you want to have your best 11 out there. So, that’s what we do, and we spell them when we need to.”
Both Parker and Eneli rarely leave the field on defense. The coaching staff will use a play here and there offensively to get Parker a rest, and Eneli usually enters the ballgame at tailback to spell featured runner Jameel Hodges.
The plan has worked greatly to the Knights’ benefit, and last week at Leo Buckley Stadium against Austin Vandegrift, both Parker and Eneli were involved in multiple big plays to help capture an exciting 20-19 victory in their final nondistrict tune-up.
On defense, both players were regular visitors in the Vipers’ backfield. Parker registered one sack, while Eneli brought quarterback Alex Fernandes down twice — the second of which forced a third-and-18 at the Heights 25-yard line with around one minute left in the game.
On the next play, Fernandes was intercepted inside the 5 by Knights cornerback Pablo Alejandro to secure the one-point win.
And the duo was also a huge impact offensively.
Late in the fourth quarter, Eneli keyed a nine-play, 75-yard drive on the ground that was culminated by a 13-yard touchdown pass on a fake field goal. The senior had runs of 13, 7, 11, 36 and 3 yards on the scoring march.
On the touchdown play, place-holder Marcel Ramirez took the snap, rolled to his right and threw the ball into the back of the end zone where Parker lunged over a Vandegrift defender, hauled in the pass and kept his feet inbounds to put Heights up 20-13.
Eneli also had a 64-yard scoring gallop in the third quarter, and he ended the contest with 11 carries and a game-high 132 rushing yards.
While Eneli and Parker are key contributors to the Knights’ cause, they are not alone. But it sure does help to have two-way players that can have a big impact on both sides of the ball.