Football: Man Valley's Reitz ends high school career in Big 33 Classic

North Carroll's Roman Hawkins is hit at the line of scrimmage by Manchester Valley's Parker Reitz Friday, Sept. 13 in Manchester.
North Carroll's Roman Hawkins is hit at the line of scrimmage by Manchester Valley's Parker Reitz Friday, Sept. 13 in Manchester. (DAVE MUNCH/STAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

Once Parker Reitz settles into the football mindset, the former Manchester Valley defensive tackle can't snap out of it.

So even though he was playing football on a warm June night instead of a crisp fall evening at the Big 33 Classic on Saturday, Reitz still brought the same intensity he used to menace Carroll County opponents during his career.


But standing on the field at Hersheypark Stadium surrounded by his host family and well-wishers after Maryland fell to Pennsylvania 26-14 for the third time in four years, Reitz admitted there was something a little different in capping his career at the Big 33 Classic.

"The whole week is just a great experience all around," Carroll's lone representative in the all-star game said. "If I could, I'd do it all over again because it was that much fun. … I just couldn't ask for a better week with these guys. We really bonded out here. It's just an amazing feeling to get back to playing football again."

During his senior season at Man Valley, Reitz anchored the Mavericks' lines with his 6-foot-4, 290-pound frame and helped lead the team to its first home playoff victory in November. He earned second-team All-Carroll County Athletic League honors and was selected to the Baltimore Touchdown Club's all-star game in December.

Reitz missed five games last season because of injury, but the Mavericks' big man totaled 24 tackles and seven sacks on defense.

But his career ended on a sour note with a 30-6 loss to Forestville in the Class 1A playoffs, so he relished the chance to return to the field as a high school player one last time before heading to Shippensburg to begin his college career.

"Getting out here, playing against other high schoolers going to D-I schools, D-II schools, I don't know how to say it," Reitz said. "It's just awesome. It was just great."

While some other all-star games focus simply on the game, Reitz said he enjoyed the other aspects of the Big 33 Classic. The players were never bored, Reitz said, and they participated in activities such as go-karts and baseball. The players from both teams also partnered with a buddy through the Big 33 Buddy Program.

"You were always out participating, helping kids, helping kids with disabilities, special needs, just making their day," Reitz said. "It's just great. It's a great feeling to see smiles on little kids' faces. It was awesome."

The game presented Reitz with the opportunity to compete against some of the nation's top prep players from Pennsylvania, such as five-star running back Miles Sanders, a Penn State signee who earned most valuable player honors with his three touchdowns, or Syracuse-bound running back Jo-El Shaw or dynamic Michigan signee Khaleke Hudson. He clashed with players who will play in the Big Ten Conference or ACC, and he'll have those stories to pass on.

It was one last chance for Reitz to play high school football, and he savored it.

"You get this one game [where] they all come together, all the top athletes from Maryland and Pennsylvania," Reitz said. "They all get together, and you just butt heads. It's a great experience. You learn a lot from it. You learn a lot about yourself, too."