Park Hill's Harris loves the game
By Nick McCabe PrepsKC Senior Writer
Kenyatte Harris loves football. The Park Hill senior running back has certainly excelled at it this fall, accounting for 892 yards and 14 touchdowns in just four games, but more than that, Harris is simply obsessed by the sport.
“I’ve been loving football ever since I was a baby,” Harris said. “I’ve been playing organized football since I was four years old. It’s been my whole life ever since. I’m not tired of it yet.”
When asked to list his hobbies off the field, Harris offered that he liked to “ice and rest” after taking a beating at running back. Who lists icing their sore body as a hobby? And his second hobby was watching, you guessed it, football.
Perhaps absence does make the heart grow fonder which could help explain Harris’ affection for the gridiron. He missed most of last season with a broken wrist.
“The injury last year got me down a little bit,” Harris said. “In the offseason, once I got the cast off and the wrist back healthy, I was just working like a workhorse. It feels so good to be back out there with my brothers playing a game I love.”
Of course, it is a lot easier to love something when it seemingly loves you back. The Harris/football relationship hit a rough patch last year, but things could not be better right now.
The Trojans, off to a 4-0 start, have already exceeded their win total from last year, a season that finished with a 3-7 record and a five-game losing streak.
“This year is going so great right now,” Harris said. “I’m loving every second of it. We’re always on each other about keeping it up, taking it one game at a time. We’re forgetting about last year, putting it in the past, throwing it away.”
Park Hill has knocked off a couple of big-name, big-school programs in this perfect start. They ended their losing streak with a season-opening 43-18 statement win over Blue Springs South. Last Friday the Trojans avenged a 55-14 2013 loss to Liberty with a 38-14 win over the Blue Jays, a 65-point swing year-to-year.
“Those are two really good teams,” Harris said. “We do feel really confident with where we’re at, but we know this is just the beginning. This is where we want to be right now, but we want to get where we need to go, which is St. Louis.”
The entire Trojans program has obviously made tremendous strides in the second year under head coach Josh Hood, but getting Harris back has been a big key to the success, and not just for his skills on the field.
“He’s a positive kid, a good role model for the younger kids,” Hood said. “He’s a fun kid to be around, outgoing, funny. The kids really take to him well.”
Make no mistake, though, he has been spectacular on the field. He began the year with 193 yards and three scores, plus a receiving touchdown in the win against Blue Springs South. If he was not already in the Simone Award conversation after that performance, he is now after a career-high 304 yards against Liberty.
“I was shocked when I heard the numbers, but it was really awesome to hear that,” Harris said. “I really give credit to my offensive line. They make the run game for me so easy. Without them, those yards wouldn’t have happened Friday or any Friday.”
With his junior season effectively over after three games last year, Harris missed much of the main season that players use to impress recruiters. He is still awaiting that first major college football offer but feels confident he will have the opportunity to play at the next level.
“Whoever offers the best scholarship, I’ll play for,” Harris said. “I’m just seeing how the season goes and seeing what offers I have at the end of the season.”
“He deserves those kinds of looks,” Hood said. “This is a fast kid who has a lot of talent. He can do things other people just can’t do physically. He can play on a football field on Saturdays.”
Up next on the Trojan’s schedule is a battle with their school district rivals at Park Hill South, a team that just happens to sport a four-game winning streak in the series.
“They beat us last year two times,” Harris said. “Really, every time since I’ve been here they’ve beaten us. We’re ready to get the past behind us, hopefully get a win and move to 5-0.”
Ultimately, Harris wants his love affair with football to last as long as possible in high school. Every team starts the year with the goal of getting to the state championship game. Remarkably for a Park Hill team that won just three games a year ago, led by the emergence of Kenyatte Harris and with some quality wins on their resume, that goal seems like a real possibility.
“I just want me and my team to be in St. Louis, like coach says, eating Thanksgiving dinner at Golden Corral,” Harris said. “That would be awesome.”
Central Heights Vikings
Park Hill Trojans
Seneca-Nemaha Valley Raiders
Lees Summit North Broncos
Summit Christian Academy Eagles
West Platte Bluejays
Liberty Blue Jays
Fort Osage Indians