Parker Smith does what it takes to be on gridiron

Mark Griffin

Things are going well for Oak Harbor senior tackle Parker Smith, but that wasn’t always the case.
This Friday, the fourth-ranked Rockets had a chance to close out a perfect 10-0 regular season, secure a No. 1 seed for the Division V playoffs, and win their second straight Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division title.
Three years ago this fall, Smith was warming up with his freshman and sophomore teammates prior to a game at Port Clinton, just a few games into the season. Smith and his teammates were blocking each other during pregame drills when Smith’s left foot got caught in the stadium turf.
“I felt it dislocate, for sure,” Smith recalled. “I was down for a while. The coaches helped me up and I had to go to the ER. I couldn’t stay for the game. I had to get (my knee) relocated at the hospital.”
Smith had suffered a serious injury to his knee, including damage to his ACL and MCL. He was later taken to a hospital at Ohio State and was told he would need “major surgery to change, basically, my whole knee.”
“The doctor had to break part of my shin to realign my tendons,” Smith said. “I was out for six weeks of bed rest and I didn’t go to school for a while, just short of two months. It was right before Christmas. I was upset, but not too much. It wasn’t like I could do anything about it.”
The injury forced Smith to miss his entire sophomore football season while he went through extensive rehab.
“He worked extremely hard to get back from the injury,” Oak Harbor coach Mike May said. “He had a major leg injury. They had to re-break it to fix it. I don’t know how many young men with that type of injury would have come back. Once he got to his junior year, he braced it up and he’s played at a high level.”
Smith said the prognosis after the surgery was six weeks of bed rest followed by five months of physical therapy. Smith called the process “a pain,” then added that “you have to do it to get better.”
“I hated every minute of it,” he said. “The only reason I did it was to get back on the field as a junior. I enjoy playing football and it was hard to see my friends out there playing and I’m on the sidelines. Just knowing if I came back, I would play for the varsity team. It was crazy. I couldn’t skip physical therapy. I had to go in order to play ball with all my friends.”
The 6-foot-2 Smith, who tipped the scales at 290 pounds as a junior, started at right tackle and helped the Rockets go 10-2 and win two playoff games in 2018. Oak Harbor returned several starters this season, but only two of those – Smith and junior Reece Laughlin – returned on the offensive line.
Smith dropped 15 pounds after last season and is a big reason why the Rockets (9-0, 4-0 SBC) have blitzed every opponent this season. Oak Harbor, which traveled to Port Clinton (4-5) on Friday, had outscored its opponents by a 422-97 margin through nine games and had not been held to fewer than 33 points in any game.
“Parker’s absolutely gotten the most out of his God-given ability,” May said. “He’s a very hard worker, consistent. He’s going to do his job every Friday night and and play hard. You never have to worry about him doing his job. He’s a very high-character kid and he has a good work ethic. He gets along with everybody and he’s soft spoken.
“He doesn’t say a whole lot, but when he gets on the field he can flip that switch. He loves football and he loves contact. He’s everything you want in an offensive lineman.”
Smith said his repaired knee doesn’t bother him during games, but he gets “super sore” the day after games. He added that he feels good about the season he and the Rockets are having, despite the fact that a handful of offensive linemen have suffered injuries this season.
“Honestly, we knew we’d be good after last year,” Smith said. “I think I’m doing way better than last year. The way we’ve been dominating has been unreal. We have been dominating up front and our skill guys have been making big plays for us. Personally, (my goal) was just not to get hurt this year. I knew after rehab that it was a pain in the butt to go through rehab. We’ve had a goal to win the (playoff) region and, if we did that, we’ve talked about getting to week 15 and winning state.”


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