Parkwood Ready Football For New Challenges in SCC

Share this:

At A Glance

Parkwood High School

Coach: Tim Speakman

2016 Record: 6-6 overall, 2-3 in Rocky River Conference. Lost first round of the Class 2A playoffs.

Key Players: Seth Shimer, Sr., LB (6-1, 218), Jajaun Benton, Sr., RB/CB (5-9, 160), Eli Ackerman, Sr., QB/FS (6-1, 180), Nick Saldiveri, Sr., OL/DL (6-6, 290), Marc Crimmins, Sr., LB (5-10, 160), Austin Shook, Soph., K, (5-11, 175).

Returning Starters: 11

New Parkwood High football coach Tim Speakman has hit the ground running and the Rebels coach is pleased with the team’s progress.

But Speakman is quick to caution that the Rebels still have room for a lot improvement as Parkwood makes the jump from Class 2A to Class 3A this season. Parkwood will now compete in the Southern Carolina Conference.

“These challenges don’t bother me because life is a challenge,” Speakman said. “They put their pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else does. I try to challenge our kids every day in practice.”

Speakman was named the Parkwood football coach last spring and he couldn’t turn his full attention to the football field until June. Speakman was first hired as the girls’ softball last fall and he guided the Lady Rebels to the Class 2A State Championship in June.

Speakman and the Rebels staff stressed conditioning and fundamentals before the start of August drills and now the team is preparing for the August 18 season opener at home against Central Academy.

“It has progressed okay,” Speakman said. “We worked hard over the summer in the weight room, which was a major area we wanted to stress. We hit the weight room hard for five weeks as well as football related activities. Now, we are just building on that.

“First week of practice went pretty good. I talked to assistant coaches that have been here in the past and they said it has been one of the best years they have had since they have been here at Parkwood.”

Parkwood returns 11 starters from last year’s team that finished 6-6 overall and 2-3 in the Class 2A Rocky River Conference. Tops on that list are quarterback Eli Ackerman and running back J.J Benton.

Ackerman (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) completed 113 of 187 passes for 1,495 yards and 18 touchdowns last year as a junior.  Parkwood will operate a spread offense with some option mixed in.

“He is progressing very well,” Speakman said. “We are incorporating him into the run game. One of his strengths is his athleticism and that is what we are keying on right now.”

Benton (5-9, 160) rushed for almost 900 yards last season while catching 30 passes for 300 yards.

“J.J. has really impressed me,” Speakman said. “He impressed me in the weight room this summer and he has impressed me with his work ethic out on the field. He is a special player.”

Nick Saldiveri (6-6, 290) brings experience to the offensive line and like many players the senior could see time on both sides of the football. Josh Childress (5-10, 185) is also expected to contribute.

“They are getting there and they are progressing but they are not there yet,” Speakman said. “All I ask them is to get better every single day. If we get better every single day, everything else will take care of itself.”

Senior Seth Shimer (6-1, 218) will anchor the defense at middle linebacker after recording 166 tackles last season. Defensive back Nikai Stitt (5-6, 140) and outside linebacker Marc Crimmins (5-10, 160) bring experience to the defense while sophomore defensive back Michael Williams (5-6, 140) has progressed well.

“We expect (Shimer) to be the field general for us on defense,” Speakman said.

One strength will be in the kicking game as Austin Shook will handle all the kicking duties.

“Austin can really kick the ball well,” Speakman said. “The weight room has paid dividends this summer for him in getting his lower body stronger. He is kicking 45-yarders right now and he is kicking the ball into the end zone. He works hard at it.”

Speakman said no starting position is safe as the team prepares for the season.

“These kids have to fight for their jobs every day,” Speakman said. “We relate this to business in that they have to come to work every single day and earn their paycheck. If they come late or they don’t come to practice then they fall back. They have to earn that paycheck every single day.”

Another new face on the Parkwood coaching staff is offensive coordinator Bryan Tamalone. Tamalone coached at Rock Hill, S.C. last season.

“He has a lot of energy and he has a very good football mind,” Speakman said.

Share this:

Previous articleSun Valley Football Team Sets Sights On Return To Playoffs
Next articleWeddington Ready To Defend Class 3A Championship
Paul Nielsen
Nielsen was a sports writer for what is now the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for nearly 32 years before moving to North Carolina in February 2016. At the Democrat-Gazette, Nielsen's primary responsibility was beat coverage for Rogers High School. Rogers is a Class 7A school located in Northwest Arkansas.
Nielsen, a University of Arkansas graduate, covered the Northwest Arkansas Naturals Minor League Baseball team from 2008-2015. The Naturals are the Double-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.
Nielsen has experience covering University of Arkansas athletics, including NCAA Tournament basketball games and several football bowl games. He also covered amateur and professional golf tournaments in Northwest Arkansas.
Nielsen lives in Matthews with his wife, Susan. He can be reached at