While ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10 plays list commonly shows the most exhilarating professional and college plays from all sports, a local high school running back muscled his way into the list with an incredible display of gridiron prowess.
Christopher Columbus High School running back, Henry Parrish Jr., skyrocketed to viral fame when he peaked at No. 2 of SportsCenter’s Top 10 after faking seemingly half of the defenders on the field for an explosive touchdown during Columbus 41-7 win over Belen Jesuit on Aug. 21, where he rushed for a total of 324 yards and scored three touchdowns.
To shine a spotlight on local, unsung athletes, ESPN celebrated Parrish’s viral play Friday by unveiling a public installation at the school’s weight room paying homage to his Top 10 play.
At the game against Belen, Head Coach Dave Dunn was setting up Parrish in a position to score, and little did he know that his running back was on the cusp of viral stardom.
“We had first and 10, with the ball on the Belen 26,” Dunn said. “We were running inside zone to the left, trying to get the ball in a position to score. Henry made an unbelievable cutback, took it up the sideline, and made about five guys miss.”
Parrish’s play caught the attention of football fans nationwide and solidified him as one of the best running backs in the country.
At the celebration, Parrish was surrounded by family members, and some hundred teammates and students all hyped him up, as the high school band played the iconic SportsCenter theme that reverberated throughout the spacious weight room.
The celebration had a pep rally feel as the Explorers were set to face powerhouse Booker T. Washington High School’s Tornadoes later that evening. However, the Tornadoes (3-1) bested the Explorers 34-11, while holding Parrish to 142 yards on 15 carries, bringing the Explorer’s record to 2-2.
Though the Explorers lost their game after celebrating with Parrish hours earlier, for the young man, making it to SportsCenter was a dream come true, he said.
“Growing up watching SportsCenter, I was hoping to be there one day,” Parrish said. “My dream finally came.”
Dunn described Parrish’s play as the “greatest run” by a high school player he has ever seen, he said.
“He made an amazing play and has been a great ambassador of our school and football program. It is great to see him honored this way,” Dunn said.
At the moment, Parrish is committed to the University of Pittsburgh, where he plans to study technology or business, he said. He is expected to continue to receive offers from different schools as the season goes on.
“It’s like a brotherhood,” Parrish said of the school. “All the coaches, they welcomed me, and I felt I was part of the family.”
He said he received congratulatory calls from the University of Pittsburgh staff after making it on SportsCenter.
“They were all calling me that night and they were excited for me,” Parrish said.
His play also caught the attention of different NFL running backs, such as Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants, and Melvin Gordon of the Los Angeles Chargers, who praised his run via social media.
“Them commenting on my run was amazing,” Parrish said.
And though he made it to one of the game’s most prestigious shows, Parrish is focused on taking it one game at a time.
“It’s an amazing thing but we just have to keep going,” he said.