2006-02-09 / Top Stories

Viking Football Star Awarded Syracuse U. Scholarship

By Neil S. Friedman

Future Orangeman Cantey, flanked by his parents, talked with a Syracuse football coach last week minutes after signing papers for his athletic scholarship to the Big East University.           Neil S. FriedmanFuture Orangeman Cantey, flanked by his parents, talked with a Syracuse football coach last week minutes after signing papers for his athletic scholarship to the Big East University. Neil S. Friedman On the gridiron South Shore High School varsity player Parker Cantey has speed, soft hands and the ability to bring opponents to the ground. Off the field, he is a modest, soft-spoken, grounded young man with a future full of opportunities.

Part of his future was advanced last week when the 17-year-old senior signed papers granting him a full athletic scholarship to Syracuse University. Surrounded by his parents, two sisters and Viking football head coach Tommy Salvato, Cantey put his signature on the requisite documents that could lead to earning him a staring linebacker position with the prestigious Big East school’s football team that boasts such famous gridiron alumni as Jim Brown, Ernie Davis and Floyd Little. The youngest of eight children, Cantey said that it doesn’t matter what position he’s slotted in at college, but senses it will likely be at linebacker, a defensive position he excelled at as a Viking.

ACourier photographer was on the spot when Cantey made the game-winning touchdown against Canarsie High School last October after ball tipped off defender’s fingertips into his hands. This photo was subsequently featured on the front page of the Courier.    Phil RobinsonACourier photographer was on the spot when Cantey made the game-winning touchdown against Canarsie High School last October after ball tipped off defender’s fingertips into his hands. This photo was subsequently featured on the front page of the Courier. Phil Robinson Salvato told the Canarsie Courier this week that in three years on the varsity squad, Cantey set a school record with 22 career sacks from his outside linebacker position.

“He is the most dominant player — on both sides of the ball — that has ever played for me,” Salvato said. “It was great to watch him mature into a very talented player and a fine young man.

“On defense he was the type of player that can change the course of a game, as he did in our semifinal game in ’04 against JFK.

“In addition to his athletic ability, Parker was a team leader, who was always in shape at the start of the season, always hustled, which set an example for my younger players. He’s a unique player who can’t be replaced.”

Cantey ran for a 65-yard touchdown on October 15 against Boys &Girls High School.   Phil Robinson Cantey ran for a 65-yard touchdown on October 15 against Boys &Girls High School. Phil Robinson In Cantey’s final season as a Viking, he had more than a dozen touchdowns, including six rushing, five on pass plays, one on defense, plus two punt returns and a kickoff return. As a wide receiver Cantey had more than 60 receptions in three years. Salvato said his reception total declined each year — from 28 in 2003 to just 10 last season — because his reputation forced opponents to key on him, which left him covered on pass plays.

Salvato said that Cantey is only the second player in his 12-year tenure at South Shore that was signed by an NCAA Division I school.

Cantey has played football for Salvato since his sophomore year. In his first year under Salvato’s guidance, the young man learned a crucial lesson that helped strengthen his potential. Admitting he had somewhat of a wild side when he entered high school, Cantey explained that Coach Salvato got wind of poor grades that could have hurt his football dreams.

“Besides being strict on the field, which made me play better, Coach reminded me to focus on my grades,” the senior remembered. He said that Salvato constantly advised him — and his teammates — that academics were just as, if not more, important that learning the plays.

“Coach Salvato has always been there for me. He’s like family,” Cantey noted.

He sought advice from Salvato and his parents, Raymond and Anna, on his college choice, but in the end, it was solely his decision. Cantey said his father told him that there are “hundreds of schools and thousands of players” in colleges, so it was in his best interest to select the one at which he felt he would fit in.

Other major schools, including Virginia, Penn State and Temple universities, also recruited Cantey, but in the end he felt Syracuse was best suited for him because it seemed to provide the proper atmosphere where he could grow as an athlete and a student. He plans on majoring in Political Science or History.

Late next summer, Cantey changes colors — from the purple and gold of the Vikings to the bright orange that gives Syracuse athletic teams their name — Orangemen.

When he was interviewed before the Super Bowl, Cantey was reluctant to pick the winner, though he thought Seattle’s running game could help them defeat the Steelers. As it turned out, the Seahawks ground game was contained and Pittsburgh went on to win Super Bowl XL.

He may not yet be a big game forecaster, but Parker Cantey has confidence, maturity and the priorities for a successful future.

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