When Daniel Parker attended the Simone Awards as a junior, he was cool, calm and collected.
He was nominated for the Buck Buchanan Award, which is named after the late Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame defensive lineman.
“Everyone knew that (Park Hill High School senior) Chester Graves was going to win the Buchanan Award, so I just went for the experience, to see what the whole Simone Awards ceremony was like and then hoped to be nominated this year,” said Parker, who won the award, which is given to the top big class lineman or linebacker in the metro area, during the ceremony Tuesday morning at Park Hill High School.
“This year, it was a totally different story. My palms were sweating, I was all nervous; it wasn’t anything like last year. This year’s nominees were special – especially Daniel Carson (a senior from William Chrisman High School). That dude is good, and so was everyone else who was nominated.
“To win this award is pretty special – amazing, really.”
Parker finished the season with 46 tackles, including 17 sacks and 22 tackles for losses. He also had three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He also helped pave the way for an offense that gained 4,827 total yards this season, averaged more than 212 yards rushing per game and advanced to the Class 6 state championship game.
Last week the Missouri High School Football Coaches Association named Parker the Class 6 Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team all-state selection. He was also named an all-conference offensive and defensive lineman in the Suburban Big Seven and the Big Seven Defensive Player of the Year.
This is the eighth time Blue Springs has had a Buchanan winner and the fourth in the last seven years. Parker joins, among others, two-time winner Elijah Lee (2011-2012) and Carlos Davis (2013).
“It’s great to bring this great honor back home to Blue Springs, just like Elijah and Carlos were able to do,” said Parker, who has verbally committed to Missouri. “I knew this day could be special, but it is even more special than I thought it would be.”
Wildcats defensive line coach and defensive coordinator Derek Wilson was thrilled with Parker’s award.
“He’s one of the best defensive linemen I’ve ever coached and to go both ways, like he did all season playing on the offensive and defensive line in Class 6 is unheard of,” Wilson said. “I was hoping he’d be up for the Simone Award, because very few kids could play at the level Daniel played. He never left the field, and there were games – like our second game against Park Hill – where he just dominated. He was unstoppable in that game and was pretty much unstoppable all season.”
Wildcats head coach Kelly Donohoe was also pleased with Parker’s selection, adding, “The big man had a great season. He took his game, on both sides of the ball, to new levels.”
Parker beat out Carson, Park Hill’s Brighton Ramirez and Blue Valley Northwest’s Nick Allen for the award.
SIMONE AWARD: Park Hill senior Ronnie Bell, who had one of the most prolific receiving seasons in Missouri history, was named the winner of the 35th annual Simone Award as the top player in the metro area.
He was introduced by the first Simone Award winner, Park Hill graduate Bill Kelso, who took home the honor in 1983.
Bell caught 89 passes for 1,605 yards and 21 touchdowns, the fourth best total in state history. He was also a threat on the ground, scoring three touchdowns on 15 carries. Bell, a unanimous pick for first-team all-conference receiver, also had a punt return for a touchdown.
Bell also was named the Otis Taylor Award winner as the metro area’s top receiver or tight end.
ALL-SIMONE TEAM: Only four area players were named to the All-Simone team: Parker’s offensive line teammate Conrad Rowley, Fort Osage linebacker Mason Middleton, Parker and Carson.
KANSAS COACH OF THE YEAR: Andy Sims, a member of The Examiner’s All-Area football team in 1996 and a 1997 graduate of Fort Osage High School, was named the Kansas Coach of the Year. He led Blue Valley North to the program’s first state championship by beating defending state champion Derby 49-42.
“I bet Coach Boyce would be proud,” said a grinning Sims, who was part of the Jerry Boyce football teams that laid the foundation for future success at Fort Osage High School. “This award really caught me off guard. I had no idea I’d ever win something like this.”