Originally created 01/07/01

Turman sets rushing mark; Parker revives Laney program



Daccus Turman, most likely while fishing in a neighborhood pond or hunting on a late-night trip, began to realize that he broke a record few thought was breakable.

With 3,172 yards rushing and 31 touchdowns this season, the Washington-Wilkes running back eclipsed Herschel Walker, who had held the state single-season rushing record of 3,167 yards. But the Washington-Wilkes senior never realized exactly what he'd accomplished - until now.

"It's finally started sinking in," said Turman, who helped lead his Tigers to a 14-1 record and a runner-up finish in Class AA.

"I never expected this kind of stuff."

Turman's efforts this season not only garnered him the Georgia player of the year award by the Georgia Sports Writers Association, but they also made him a unanimous selection for The Augusta Chronicle's Georgia area player of the year.

Another individual who put together a solid run and guided his team to its best finish in more than two decades is Lucy Laney coach Eric Parker.

Parker helped the Wildcats to a 10-2 record and a berth in the second round of the state playoffs. The team finished 3-7 in 1999.

The fourth-year coach said he believed he should have helped his team to a better finish, but he looked at this season as a major step in the building process at Laney.

"This year was evidence of getting things turned around, and we're making progress in terms of wins and losses," Parker said. "This year, you could look at our record and see things are starting to pay off. I'm as excited as I can be to get the roots to continue to grow for this program."

Turman's 390 carries also set the single-season record for carries in a season. Turman broke Walt Crowder's record of 380 carries set in 1987.

But if he had had his way, he would have beaten Americus in the Class AA state title game and come away with a championship ring instead of a record.

"That was a heartbreaker," Turman said of the Tigers' 14-0 loss in soggy field conditions Dec. 16 in Americus. "I guess it just wasn't our night."

When Parker took over at Laney in 1997, the program was down. The first-year coach struggled to an 0-10 record that year, but things looked promising with a talented freshmen class.

Several freshmen started in Parker's first year, including offensive lineman Marcus Glenn, who eventually started every game during his career at the school.

In 1998, Parker began to start more underclassmen, and the team improved to 1-9. Last year, the Wildcats finished 3-7.

This season, Parker reaped the benefits of a veteran program that had a taste of the postseason and laid the groundwork for a successful future.

The Wildcats were among the quickest and most explosive teamss in the area and appeared to be on their way to a deep finish in the state playoffs - until the rain poured at Jaycee Stadium and the Wildcats couldn't overcome the weather and eight turnovers in a 22-0 loss to Fitzgerald in the second round.

Parker won't let that loss detract from the careers of 14 Laney seniors, who played in their final game that night.

"This group of players I had was special," Parker said. "They came in as ninth-graders and got beat around, but they hung in there."