LAWRENCEBURG, Indiana -- Mason Parris could win Lawrenceburg High School’s Defensive Player of the Week honors every week if he wanted.
The standout senior linebacker has that type of impact for the Tigers, who were a 3A state runner-up in 2016.
He is the program’s all-time leading tackler after collecting 191 tackles (102 solo) last season. He’s one of a handful of players who will have lettered all four years since the program started in 1944.
But Tigers coach Ryan Knigga has to chuckle when describing the weekly team honors.
“At some point, we have to spread it out,” Knigga deadpanned.
That’s just the simple truth. Sometimes the coach runs out of superlatives in describing the three-star recruit.
Parris, 17, is also a two-time state wrestling champion who carries a 4.2 grade-point average and is ranked seventh out of 150-plus students in his senior class. His college scholarship offers are almost too many to count when you combine football and wrestling.
"There is not much more you can say about him," Lawrenceburg wrestling coach Mark Kirchgassner said. "He's a great kid. He has God-given talent and he works his butt off. I've been coaching wrestling 20 years and I've not had a wrestler who works as hard as he does."
Parris was the TriState Football Indiana Defensive Player of the Year and Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference 3A Defensive Most Valuable Player a second straight season as a junior.
He was also a state qualifier in shot put and volunteers his spare time with the youth wrestling and football programs. Any other spare time is spent fishing or swimming at the family pond.
“He’s just a phenomenal kid,” Knigga said. “He’s a leader in so many ways. He’s the face of our school. If you made a poster of Lawrenceburg High School or Lawrenceburg athletics he would be the guy that you would want everybody to say, ‘hey, that’s it.’ He’s the guy that encompasses all the things that we try to teach.”
The Tigers will certainly look to the leadership of their 6-foot-3, 230-pound linebacker at the start of this season. The defense is the strength of his team and he’s one of four linebackers returning from a squad who made it to Lucas Oil Stadium in December.
“I’m looking forward to playing with my brothers and to having a great year, having a good time and winning some games,” Parris said.
Lawrenceburg (13-2 in 2016) plays host to East Central (11-3) at 7 p.m. Aug. 18 to open the 20th annual Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown.
Lawrenceburg is ranked No. 2 in 3A in the state preseason coaches' poll, while East Central is No. 4 in in 4A.
“Lawrenceburg will be an amazing environment and a game that has a big-time playoff feel,” East Central coach Justin Roden said.
More than 3,000 fans are expected at Dick Meador Stadium on Route 50. Three TV stations, two radio stations and a webcast will converge on a matchup that hasn’t happened since 2012.
The Dearborn County rivals started playing in 1974. Now after a five-year absence, the schools have agreed to an ongoing series, Knigga said.
“It’s a game that should be played,” Knigga said. “It’s a great gate for your school. We are expecting a huge crowd. We don’t have to pump it up and make it any bigger than it already is. Our kids know it’s a big game.”
Parris understands the magnitude of this game very well. His father, inside linebackers coach Mark Parris, is a 1988 East Central graduate. Mark later played middle linebacker at Ball State from 1989 to 1993.
“He’s so quiet and humble,” Mark said of his son. “He’s always been so competitive. He’s a great leader.”
Mason is also enjoying the recruiting process. He has wrestling offers from schools that include Indiana, Nebraska, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Illinois, North Carolina State, Stanford, Arizona State and Northwestern. Princeton is also interested.
The wrestling coaches that stop by his home often take a photo with himbefore Mason tweets about the visit. The coaches anticipate the photo and dress accordingly -- much to the delight of Parris, who has a 159-1 record in high school.
In football, Ball State, Colgate, Eastern Michigan, Southern Illinois, Army, Navy, Air Force and other Mid-American Conference programs have offered. Michigan State has shown interest.
Mason says he likely won’t decide on a college program -- and whether that be for football or wrestling -- until the end of the football season.
“I pretty much stay grounded and try not to let it overwhelm me too much,” Mason said. “I just try to enjoy it.”
Knigga knows whatever his standout decides, a college program will be grateful to receive his National Letter of Intent.
“He’s impressive in all aspects of his life,” Knigga said. “Obviously we know he’s a great athlete but he’s an even better person.”