The introductions took a while for the Trojans’ coach. In all, 10 signed national letters of intent with various schools on Wednesday, Feb. 4 — a record for a program that has achieved regular success since the late 1990s.
All 10 were part of a senior class that led a resurgence from a 3-7 season in 2013 to Park Hill’s seventh state semifinal appearance — first since 2006 — this past fall.
“It was a great day for Park Hill High School and the Park Hill football program, as well,” Hood said. “These kids did a great job in the hallways and the classroom. They committed to their work on the field. That’s going to get their schooling paid for. I’m proud of them and all of the accomplishments they made here as a student at Park Hill.”
Ryan Truvillion, a less-heralded defensive lineman in terms of postseason honors, headlined the class, signing to play at Southeast Missouri State — an NCAA Division I-FCS school located in Cape Girardeau, Mo. The 6-foot-7, 250-pound recruit projects as a defensive end after tallying 82 tackles, 3 sacks and 16 tackles for a loss on a defense that allowed less than 14 points per game on the way to the Class 5 semifinals.
All 11 defensive starters — and two reserves — earned a spot on the Suburban League Red Division all-conference team from the Trojans.
“It was a very long, happy, stressful (process),” said Truvillion, a first-team selection to the All-Class 5 District 8 and All-Suburban League Red Division teams. “A lot of schools came by to try and get me. I was blessed to have this opportunity. They really picked it up offering full rides at the end, but I ended up going with my gut, which was SEMO.”
Carter Anchors — the conference’s defensive player of the year —— signed on to play at Division II power Pittsburg State, following the lineage his uncle started in Pittsburg, Kan. Tim Anchors was an All-American linebacker in the 1970s and won the Carnie Smith Award — the most outstanding player on the team — in 1974.
“At Pitt, the (recruit’s dinner) was a really nice dinner,” said Carter Anchors, a linebacker and winner of the Red Division’s defensive player of the year in addition to unanimous first team all-state honors. “I liked the values that the coaches had. I felt it throughout the entire visit. All of the recruits had a nice dinner in (the dining hall). They had one of the professors come and talk to us about the academic stuff. It was really well done, and I thought that was what was best for me.”
Anchors made 124 total tackles — 25 for loss — to go with three forced fumbles, two recoveries and one interception on a stout linebacking corps. Two of the forced fumbles came against Fort Osage — to help send Park Hill back to the Class 5 semifinals.
Jamaal Brazil, another standout linebacker, signed with a rival Division II power. He inked with Northwest Missouri State, as did teammate and offensive lineman Anthony Enriquez.
At 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, Brazil blossomed late and collected 103 tackles (23 for loss) in addition to four sacks and five passes defensed. He made just 10 tackles the previous season as a junior, and Northwest coach Adam Dorrel raved about the standout’s potential during his recruiting press conference.
Enriquez (6-4, 275 pounds) and Austin Reiter and Jordan Lashbrook (Quincy (Ill.)) all signed to play Division II off of an offensive line that blocked for an offense that accrued 5,012 yards of total offense this season, including 3,812 rushing. Enriquez, who received interest from multiple Division I schools including Brown and Yale, earned unanimous all-state honors, as well.
“Their success and being consistent every year (stood out to me),” Enriquez said of Northwest. “Every year, they have a good program. They’re constantly losing only or two games a year, if not going undefeated and winning national championships. So if I want to be successful I might as well go to somewhere that has success every year.”
Clayton Cole, another linebacker, also signed for Quincy, giving the Hawks a trio of teammates. He ended up with a team-high 135 total tackles, 26 for loss, to go with seven sacks, three interceptions and three fumbles recovered.
Despite an injury-plagued career, running back Kenyatte Harris also signed to play at the Division II level with Washburn (Topeka, Kan.). He racked up more than 1,000 yards of total offense and 16 touchdowns despite playing in only nine games, including a limited role in the state semifinal loss at Nixa.
Harris scored four touchdowns in each of Park Hill’s first three wins before a bone bruise kept him on the sideline for more than a month.
Park Hill’s final two signees ended up at NAIA programs — Jeremiah Benson (William Penn) and David Taylor (Baker).
Used at multiple positions, Benson is listed at wide receiver on William Penn’s recruiting list. He appeared in 10 games with 10 total touchdowns while splitting time as a wide receiver, backup quarterback and kick and punt returner — five rushing, one passing, two receiving and two on returns.
Taylor, also a wide receiver, recorded team-highs of 27 catches and 333 yards to go with two scores in Park Hill’s run-heavy programs. He also scored once on a return.
“It’s a large number of kids signing at great programs,” Hood said. “These are all kids signing at programs with a lot of success and national championships in the past from NAIA to the Division I level. I’m proud of where they are, and it shows a lot of maturity in our program.”