By Mike Mattson
Local Sports Journal

MUSKEGON – Don’t ever count out Mike Parker in a football game.

The Orchard View senior has a proven track record of making plays when they matter.

“I just give it 100 percent and whatever happens, happens,” Parker said.

Mike Parker

Mike Parker

Last week, Parker made one of the biggest plays in his three-year varsity career when he caught the winning 18-yard touchdown pass with four seconds left in OV’s 22-16 win against Montague.

The play started with freshman quarterback Jayden Day’s pass into the end zone and ended with help from fellow wide receiver Kris Wells.

“Both Kris and I ran a slant and go,” Parker said. “We both had the ball. He pushed it into my chest and I came up with it. It was crazy. It felt like a dream, really.”

That play and victory set off a celebration that hasn’t been seen at OV in quite some time.

That play also had the exact same result with Parker and Wells in practice leading up to the Montague game.

Nobody was happier than Coach Joe Tanis for Parker and the Cardinals.

“I knew we had the players who can make plays,” Tanis said.

“I think that game, beating a good program like Montague and Coach Pat Collins, it cemented the hard work and completed the buying in process for our kids. They had to trust us and work and work and work.”

Nobody has bought in and worked harder at OV than Parker, an intense 6-foot, 170-pound wide receiver and outside linebacker.

He struggled alongside Tanis through a pair of 2-7 seasons on the varsity. And now, OV has a good chance to match those win totals with a victory Friday at Manistee.

Parker said there is a refreshing new attitude at OV this season.

“Last year, this team wasn’t as close,” said Parker, who rushed for 35 yards and caught a team-high four passes for 31 yards against Montague. “There was a lot of negativity. Now we pick everybody up when something bad happens. Things are changing here for the better.”

Mike Parker breaks through the end zone on a 2-point conversion to give Orchard View a 16-14 lead. Photo/Jason Goorman

Mike Parker breaks through the end zone on a 2-point conversion to give Orchard View a 16-14 lead during their opening season win over Montague. Photo/Jason Goorman

Parker, who also is a standout in wrestling and baseball at OV, has made big strides in football since his sophomore season.Tanis said the development and leadership of Parker and fellow seniors Robert Clanton, Bobby Clanton and Wells have been instrumental to OV’s turnaround mentality. And it starts with Parker.

“Mike (as a sophomore) didn’t understand he could be a college player,” Tanis said. “He understands now he can play with anybody. He has bought in from Day 1 and understands what we are trying to do.

“Mike is a football player. His highlight tape is 10 minutes of him making play after play after play. He has great instincts. He’s a great open field tackler with great hands.”

Parker, the son of Tal and Tina Parker, also excels with 4.6 speed and passion on offense and defense.

He wants to play college football and has an interest in becoming an athletic trainer.

Tanis believes Parker will be a solid college player in the right program.

“His best football is in front of him,” Tanis said. “He’s really improved his confidence.

“He’s an Orchard View Cardinal through and through,” Tanis added. “He wants to bring the program back.  He’s stayed the course and I can’t thank him enough for that.”

Beating Manistee is the next goal for Parker and the Cardinals.  A winning season and playoff berth also are on the radar.

“We are going to take it week by week,” Parker said. “We are trying to get Orchard View back on the right track.”