Michael Parker considers himself a lucky man. All he has to do is make sure Jairrice Pryor carries the football a lot on Friday nights, and most likely, good things are going to happen.
“Every time we give him the football, he does something that makes you say, 'Wow,'” Parker said. “He just does things you can't coach. He makes me look like I know what I'm doing.”
Pryor began the season on fire. He rushed for 215 yards and two touchdowns in a 50-6 win over Elkmont to start the season. He then rushed for 217 yards and five touchdowns, while also throwing a touchdown pass, in a 48-14 win over Tanner.
He saved his best performance for Clements' first region game against Phil Campbell. The senior running back rushed for 268 yards and five touchdowns in the Colts 44-27 victory. The win gave Clements a 3-0 record for the first time since 1996.
Pryor had a good season last year, but worked hard in the offseason to take his game to another level this season.
“Our coach pushes us every day,” Pryor said. “He makes us work hard, and we respond to what we have to do. I tried to get faster and bigger in the offseason and work with my offensive line. They're more important to this team than anybody. To me, those 200 yards goes to them. I'm just running for them.”f
Since becoming Clements' head coach prior to the 2018 season, Parker has focused on improvement in the weight room. He said that has helped Pryor more than anything else.
“The weight room has created a mentality that he has taken on, and he now understands how good of an athlete he is and what God has blessed him with,” Parker said. “The guy squats 535 pounds. He's been a quick-strike back, and he's also a power back now. He is very strong. He's really a total running back. He's got the speed and the strength.”
Parker said the weight room has been the key to not only Pryor's breakout season but also Clements' success.
“I think the weight room has done this whole team good,” he said. “Last year, we got pushed around quite a bit in a few games. This year, we're seeing where the weight room is keeping us in the games. (The players) have had a year in my program, and we now have a mentality that we are athletes and we can play with anyone.”
Clements (3-0, 1-0) faces its toughest test of the season Friday night when defending region champion Westminster Christian comes to visit. The Wildcats (2-2, 1-1) suffered a surprising 27-20 loss to Colbert Heights in their region opener two weeks ago, but recovered to defeat Lexington 39-0 last week.
Colts players and coaches vividly remember last year's game against Westminster Christian, a 60-14 defeat in which the Wildcats led by nearly 50 points at halftime.
“We're treating these last two games (Phil Campbell and Westminster Christian) as revenge games,” Pryor said. “We feel we didn't play the way we were capable of (last year). With Westminster being the good team that they are, we want to go out there and show people that we're for real and not a joke this year.”
Parker said Westminster is a team that won't beat itself with penalties or mistakes.
“Westminster is a very solid team,” Parker said. “They don't get penalties and they don't do stupid stuff. They take what you give them and don't make mistakes when they do it. That's going to be the threat for us, just hanging in there for four quarters, matching up with them and doing things right.”
But with the weight room commitment and another standout performance from Pryor, the Colts have a shot to continue their undefeated start to the season.
“I believe if we come out and play our football and are disciplined in what we do and cut the penalties out, it will be a war,” Parker said. “I hope we come out on the top end of that. I think they're a good football team, but I also think we're a good football team, so we've just got to keep plugging away. We're not where we need to be, but we ain't where we've been either.”