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Record-breaking King drives Parkview offense

In auto racing terminology, which Parkview head football coach Cecil Flowe is known to quote frequently, Caleb King is the engine. He makes the Panthers' offense go.

Unable to throw the ball as well as past seasons, Flowe's team relied heavily on its star junior running back in 2005, even though the guy in the No. 4 jersey was the one part of the offense every opposing defense was geared to stop.

It didn't seem to matter most Friday nights.

King, the Daily Post's Offensive Player of the Year, responded with a record-breaking effort, putting up huge numbers as Parkview reached the Class AAAAA quarterfinals. He rushed for a school-record 2,765 yards, believed to be the highest total in state history by a junior and the highest total ever in Georgia's largest classification. It's the second-highest total in Gwinnett history, trailing only the 2,871 yards put up by Greater Atlanta Christian's Micah Andrews in 2002.

"Caleb's like (former Parkview backs) Brett Millican and Brad Lester, he's good. He's real good," Flowe said. "He's just all out all the time. He does things well and he works real hard at it. He's not scared to take the team on his back. And he had to do it several times this year.

"We told him, 'Caleb, you're going to be our workhorse. You've got to be productive.' And he was."

Take an Oct. 21 win over Central Gwinnett as the prime example of King's importance. He carried 42 times for a school-record 315 yards in the 30-3 victory, running the ball on 71.2 percent of Parkview's 59 offensive snaps.

For the season he touched the ball, via the run or the pass, 355 times in Parkview's 660 offensive plays. He had 346 of his team's 547 carries.

The huge workload was on Caleb King's mind throughout the offseason.

He knew the plan. The Parkview offense would revolve around him. He was going to get plenty of touches, and he wanted to be ready. It's a good thing he prepared because his carries got increased even more because of a season-ending knee injury to fellow back Antonio Mohn and a nagging hamstring to Jason Fisher, another tailback.

"I wanted that last year (as a sophomore)," King said of being the feature back. "They told me I was going to get it this year so I was excited. I was training in the offseason for it."

The training paid off with big game after big game. He rushed for 243 against Grayson and 239 against Berkmar on only 21 carries. He was even more dominating in the Shiloh game, rushing for 301 yards and five touchdowns on just 18 carries.

He closed the season with another outstanding performance - 27 carries for 197 yards and a TD vs. Stephenson in the state quarterfinals. It was satisfying to put up huge numbers against a Jaguar defense laden with Division I prospects, but the 20-14 loss wasn't the ending he wanted.

"Overall I was pretty happy with the season," King said. "But I would have been a lot happier with a state championship."

During the Stephenson game, he reeled off one of his highlight runs, a 74-yard TD. But it was one of many this season, as he frequently made the spectacular look routine.

Flowe had a hard time picking one favorite run by King that stood out this season. But a spectacular 80-yard TD run to open the Berkmar game was right up there, when he made countless defenders miss with cuts and moves.

"That (Berkmar run) was a good one," Flowe said. "We didn't actually block that play well. But he got through the hole and just made a bunch of people miss."

Since King knew the heavy load of carries was coming, he worked particularly hard in the offseason. He used his personal trainer, but Flowe said the big-time recruit never missed a Parkview workout.

King started working on his nutrition - "Pop-Tarts, I can't eat any more of that" - and continued to work out like a freak. The 5-foot-11 back is now 190 pounds, up from 175 as a sophomore, and he hopes to play at 205 next season.

The added weight hasn't kept King from putting up freakish speed results at college recruiting combines. His 3.88-second time in the 20-yard shuttle in the Athens Nike Camp in May was among the nation's fastest times. He consistently runs the 40-yard dash in blazing times, 4.32 seconds is his best and 4.46 is his worst of late.

He gets a few more chances to show off in front of college coaches in the coming months at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl combine in Texas next month and next spring at the Nike combine.

"I like the combines," King said. "They're fun. I love showing my talents. It's what I do, so I just do it."

Coaches from five college programs have seen King in action at their summer camps. All five offered scholarships to the underclassman on the spot.

Georgia and Auburn were the first, but Florida, Clemson and North Carolina already have extended offers. As his senior season nears, he should have his pick of colleges.

"I'm not worried about (recruiting)," King said. "I'm just worried about next year at Parkview."

Flowe has seen a number of highly recruited players pass through his school, but King may end up being the most sought after.

"(Colleges) are after him big time," Flowe said. "Anything he wants to do (for a college), he can do it. He'll get offers from everybody. He's big time."