Parker McClure admits he has a distinct, intimidating look about him when he walks the halls of Red Mountain High School.
The sophomore attributes that to his haircut, which he and senior Major Kelly call “the Boz,” made famous by former professional football player and actor Brian Bosworth. He has a flat top that transitions into a mullet, with designs usually cut into the side.
It’s a unique look that not many can pull off, but it’s one that McClure embraces to go along with his personality.
“Me and Major, we wear it right,” McClure laughed. “Everybody thinks we are the intimidating guys when we do it, but we are just goofy trying to pull off a haircut.
“I like to standout sometimes.”
When McClure isn’t standing out outside of school or in the halls, he’s doing it on the gridiron.
The 5-foot-11, 205-pound middle linebacker has become a staple in the Red Mountain defense this season as one of the youngest players on the varsity roster. McClure currently leads the team with 100 tackles, 20 of which are solo.
It’s the second year in a row Red Mountain has been led in tackles by a sophomore linebacker, as George Ramirez did the same in 2018 before moving to safety this year as a junior.
“We play the kids that can produce the most,” Red Mountain coach Mike Peterson said. “George could produce last year, he did. Parker can produce this year, he is. That’s really what it boils down to.”
McClure credits Red Mountain defensive coordinator Kyle Enders for his success this season, along with all he has learned from other coaches and Kelly, who he said has become his best friend.
From the scheme Enders draws up for the defense to execution by the defensive line, McClure said it all comes together on Friday nights and makes his job easier.
“[Enders] is definitely the smartest coach I’ve ever worked with,” McClure said. “His schemes and everything are insane. A lot of our linemen go both ways but they’re the best at it.
“I just get to run around and make tackles.”
McClure’s jump to the varsity roster from the freshman team is something he looked forward to since playing youth football with several other current Red Mountain players. His dream as a kid wasn’t just to play in the NFL, it was to play on Friday nights.
He’s always loved the game but had a newfound love for it the more he progressed into becoming a linebacker.
“I wasn’t always very good, I was just big, fat and mean,” McClure said. “I didn’t really know a lot about the game but when I started to slim out and got pretty good, I really started loving it.”
He began working with a trainer around the time he was in the sixth grade, which helped him slim down and gain strength. It immediately transitioned to the football field, as he was quickly became one of the best on the field. That’s when McClure’s passion for football skyrocketed.
In nearly eight years of playing, McClure said he never missed a game until the two this season. He missed Red Mountain’s matchup against Dobson and Cesar Chavez, the latter of which because he was put into concussion protocol.
The night of the game against Chavez, it was hard for McClure to contain his emotions.
“I actually cried because I was mad and upset,” McClure said. “We were all sitting there, and everyone was getting ready and it kind of set in that I wasn’t going to play. Usually I would have been getting ready and getting my mind right, but I wasn’t doing that.
“It was just sad. I missed it.”
A three-sport athlete at Red Mountain, McClure said he’s never had the same type of emotion for any of the other sports he competes in.
To him, football is different. It brings out a side of him he enjoys, whether it’s his fun personality in the locker room or business-like approach to every play in practice or games. The pure devotion he has for the game is contagious, and it’s something Peterson believes has helped lead the team to success this season.
“There’s good and there’s bad emotion but that isn’t a distracting one,” Peterson said. “It created passion and that’s a big part of the high school game.”
Red Mountain ended the regular season 9-1 and clinched the top overall seed in the 6A Conference playoffs. The Mountain Lions have dominated so far in the playoffs and are preparing for a matchup against fourth-ranked Queen Creek on Friday in the semifinals.
Peterson said his team has been practicing at the highest level they have all season as of late, a good characteristic to have heading into postseason play.
“We’ve set up ourselves to start peaking right now,” Peterson said. “I don’t like to talk about winning because I believe as long as we do our best then we will win. But winning is contagious. It brings momentum, high spirits, energy and fun.
“If we keep being successful, then we will keep the momentum going.”