SHERIDAN — Parker Christensen can do just about anything, and the Sheridan High School football coaching staff has asked him to do just about everything. He plays offense, defense and special teams and multiple positions within each of those. Christensen can run, catch, block, tackle, and last week fans even saw him throw a pass — a 51-yard completion.
But don’t ask Christensen about any of that. He’s not concerned about versatility or the gaudy stats that go in conjunction with his skillset. The Sheridan senior is simply focused on winning, and come Saturday, he hopes to do that one last time as a Bronc.
“The best part about him is he doesn’t care how many touches he gets as long as we get that ‘W’ at the end,” Sheridan head coach Jeff Mowry said. “And even if we don’t get the ‘W,’ he never asks how many times he carried the ball. That’s the best part about him. He’s such a team player and he wants to do whatever it is to help his team win.”
Christensen has won quite a bit over his four-year career. He has earned three state titles, but this season has encompassed much more adversity than the last three. Not only have the Broncs endured as many losses in one season as they did in the last three combined, but Christensen has also had to deal with an injury that nearly derailed his season.
During a Week Three game against Natrona County, Christensen partially tore his hamstring and couldn’t carry the ball as effectively thereafter. Fast forward a week and Christensen had to sit out the Thunder Basin contest and watch his Broncs lose a second straight game for the first time in 11 seasons.
“We’d been really looking forward to [the Thunder Basin] game the whole season, and it was tough for me give that game up,” Christensen said. “But coach (Mowry) talked to me, and I trust coach completely and everything Joanne (Goss), our trainer, says. So I just trusted the process.”
That didn’t make dropping a home game, and falling to 2-2 on the season, any easier. Mowry said Christensen could have gone that night at about 60-70 percent health, but they decided to err on the side of caution with the bigger picture in mind.
And that’s exactly how it played out. The Broncs received another opportunity at the Bolts in Gillette in a state playoff semifinal matchup and exacted some revenge to advance to their fourth straight state championship game.
Christensen ran hard through the cold rain, pass- and run-blocked for others, was a force in the middle of a defense that yielded just seven points against a team that was averaging more than 43 points per game. He returned kicks and played an integral part in the Sheridan Broncs’ trick-filled victory.
Coming into the 2018 season, Christensen knew he was going to shoulder a much larger role, and he has embraced the challenge.
“We talked about that with Parker,” Mowry said. “We said, ‘You’re going to draw a lot of attention and there will be times we’ll use you as a decoy, and if you’re getting double-teamed, we’ll have to rely on somebody else.’ And he totally understands that. He fits every role very well and does whatever we ask him to.”
Christensen dedicated himself to the weight room last offseason with his increased workload in mind. He put on about 15 pounds for his senior season but also for his future in football.
Prior to the season starting, Christensen verbally committed to continue his football career at the University of Wyoming. After attending a few UW prospect camps and impressing, head coach Craig Bohl and his staff extended an offer to Christensen and soon after the Sheridan standout became Wyoming’s first commitment for the 2019 class.
“I feel I needed to do that (before the season) in order to completely buy in and not worry about all the stats and all that,” Christensen said. “I don’t really care about that stuff. I care more about our success. I think high school football is one of the greatest things ever. It’s a really special moment, especially senior year, and I wanted to focus all on this team.”
On the day Christensen verbally committed to the Pokes, his first call wasn’t to Bohl but rather the Sheridan coaching staff.
“They are the reason I was offered the opportunity to play college football. I believe that if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be in the position I am,” Christensen said. “They’ve done so much for me. They’ve taught me how to be a great football player, but also how to be a great person in the community and a great teammate. I felt they needed to know before the UW coaches, before I made it official because of all they’ve done for me.”
When Christensen arrives in Laramie next fall he will be the third Bronc wearing the brown and gold. He’ll join scholarship players Dontae Crow and Blayne Baker, providing further proof that Sheridan isn’t just the most accomplished football program in the state, but also the best one for developing players for the FBS Division I level.
“The relationship that you build with those college coaches definitely does help, but even more than the coach relationship is the products you send them previous years,” Mowry said. “So Dontae and big Blayne doing a good job in Laramie just increases the chances that UW goes, ‘Hey, we know what Broncs stand for, and we are going to give this guy a shot, as well.’”
Christensen’s position at UW isn’t finalized, and he’ll figure that out once he’s there. In the meantime, he’s focused on helping the Broncs best prepare for a chance to win a fourth straight state championship.
Christensen will do whatever it takes, whether that means running, blocking, tackling or throwing. Whatever it takes to get one more victory.
“Parker plays a huge role on this team,” Sheridan linebacker Garrett Coon said. “He’s good for everything. He gets stuff done, what needs to be done. He’s just a great player to be around.”