This was going to be the year.
The Tunkhannock football team, despite still in rebuilding mode and fighting a numbers game in terms of roster size, was going to turn the corner.
The Tigers felt that way in the offseason and they felt that way heading in the first game of the 2017 season.
Things did not go as planned for the Tigers (1-9), who closed out the season with a loss to Northwest on senior night.
The Tigers put up a lot of points and yards, but the other team did as well. That makes it difficult to win games.
According to starting center Thomas Parry, he would not have gone through the last four years with another group of teammates.
Parry, a senior, played his final regular season game Friday night.
He walked off the field and will now prepare himself for the upcoming lacrosse season and the rest of his adult life.
Parry, a four-year varsity player and two-year starter, was one of 13 Tunkhannock seniors who played their final high school football game.
It’s a senior class that has won five football games.
He was part of the freshmen class that was brought up to help boost the Tunkhannock roster size.
Over the years he has developed into a leader, particularly by example.
That was never more evident than last spring when lacrosse practice started and the football team was working through its offseason conditioning program.
Parry was concerned he couldn’t lift with the football team so he chose a different path.
He met with Tunkhannock head coach Jan Cechak in the weight room at 6:30 a.m. He would lift for an hour, grab a shower and then begin his school day.
“Coach Cechak was my set partner,” Parry said. “I made sure I was there just to get better. Our team is in the rebuilding years and we probably still are. I was trying to get better and push other kids to say they have no excuse and they can’t go lifting. I think there was more weight room attendance since I started going in the morning.”
The Tigers were difficult to figure out this season.
The offense ranked third in the Wyoming Valley Conference with 334.7 yards per game entering Friday night.
They were averaging 25.5 points per game, but the defense has struggled and that has hurt the team the most this year.
“It’s been frustrating, definitely our record,” Parry said. “Our games have been close and we can compete with the teams we play. We are not playing perfect football. Every week we come back ready to play. Every week it could be the start of something where we get that winning fever. It is going to click one day.”
While he understands his football career is coming to a close, Parry is focused on the future.
He wants to pursue a field in the military. He hopes to attend West Point and hoping to get a nomination. He expects to hear back sometime in January.
While West Point is his first choice, Parry has backup options that include the University of Texas, Temple and Muhlenberg.
If he attends one of those three schools, he will take the ROTC route, but regardless of what college he chooses, he wants to pursue a medical degree and have a career in the military.
It was a tragic event in Parry’s life that steered him in the direction of a medical career.
His mother, Laurie, died after a battle with cancer when he was a freshman.
“When my mother passed away that had some influence on it,” Parry said of decision. “Just helping her out. We were very close. She really helped me morally.”
Having the chance to play football and lacrosse helped Parry take his mind off some of the things at home his freshman year, even if for a brief period of time.
It also had a tremendous influence on his future, even if he was just a freshman at the time.
“I went up to West Point over the summer, just the history that is there,” Parry said. “It is a good path for me to take to do what I want to do.”
Between the Lines with Thomas Parry
The 5-10, 230-pound senior is the center and defensive tackle for the Tigers.
Favorite class: World War II
Favorite food: Grilled cheese
Favorite movie: “The Blind Side”
What’s the one thing that you are most afraid of? Snakes
What song on your iPod shows your sensitive side? “22” by Taylor Swift
Who is your dream prom date? Selena Gomez
If you could be a superhero, which one would you be? Superman
What are your hobbies away from football? Wrestling and lacrosse
Favorite thing to follow on Twitter? @CVGameface
How many gummy bears do you think you can bench press? 25,000
What is your favorite football memory? Homecoming win against Pittston Area my sophomore year
Who is the funniest guy on the team? Garrett Hopkins
Where is your favorite place to play on the road? Scranton Memorial Stadium
What would you do if you scored a touchdown? Gronk Spike
What is your favorite helmet, other than your school’s? Lake-Lehman
What are your plans after high school? Study pre-med and hopefully continue to play football