Parker James “PJ” Talen is a man of many athletic talents.
This fall, he decided to focus on football and not split his time on the soccer field for Tacoma Baptist. Talen was the goalkeeper last year, and helped the team reach the state semifinals and an eventual fourth-place finish.
“The last couple years, I played because my older cousin (Seth) was on the team,” he said. “It was his favorite sport and I wanted to make the soccer team the best I could, but he graduated.”
So it is just football for Talen, at least until basketball season begins where he excels as a high-scoring wing. He hopes to delay that transition a little while longer by leading the Crusaders against Lummi Nation at 2 p.m. Saturday in a state 1B quarterfinal game at Sammamish High School.
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“If we win, that’ll be really big,” Talen said. “Having a team that isn’t as talented but made it further than last year’s team would mean a lot.”
Talen, a dual-threat quarterback, has done what he can to help the cause. The Crusaders are 8-3; he has thrown for 957 yards and nine touchdowns and rushed for 1,597 yards and 19 touchdowns. He’s even caught six passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns.
This comes after Talen was selected to the Associated Press first team Class 1B all-state basketball team last year, averging 24.6 points per game. He was instrumental in the Crusaders’ run to the state playoffs which ended in 101-93 loss to Muckleshoot in the first round.
Simply, he’s a competitor.
“He’s tremendous is all aspects of the game,” Crusaders coach Steve Stone said. “His physical ability, his athletic ability; he has the right mindset for the game.”
Stone, having spent 16 years at Tacoma Baptist as an assistant coach, is in his first year as head coach taking over for Tim Rasmussen. He is hoping that Talen can help lead the team past the quarterfinals for the first time since 2009.
“This team marches to the beat of PJ’s drum,” Stone said. “They follow, they listen, they pay attention (to him). I’m in this to win a state championship and we are going to play a very difficult and disciplined team this week.”
Lummi showed that back in September, handing Tacoma Baptist a 58-28 defeat.
Working in the Crusaders’ favor in the rematch is the team is getting healthy at the right time. Through much of the season, they were without junior running back Logan Kitselman. His return will be a boost for the offense.
And that could mean Talen stays in cleats and not high tops a little while longer.
Jordan Whitford: 253-597-8680