Isaac Parker on the sidelines during a South Salem football game (Photo courtesy of Dirk Knudsen of OregonPreps/WashingtonPreps.com)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Isaac Parker will be the next head coach of McNary High School football.

Parker was most recently the offensive coordinator at South Salem High School and replaces Rick Ward who resigned from the post after the 2011 season.

Ron Richards, athletic director at McNary, said Parker has been on his short list for quite some time should the need arise.

“He has great knowledge of football and a vision for where he’d like to see the McNary program go,” Richards said. “He’s got a great background working with young men and developing their character. He’s the whole package, with the exception of head coaching experience.”

Parker, 31, said his focus for the immediate future will be character development in the young men of the McNary football ranks.

“If we’re developing the relationships with the kids a well as the right focus and attitude, success will follow it. The opposite of that is that if we try to pursue success in winning those relationships suffer,” Parker said.

In addition to assembling a coaching staff over the coming months, he’s hoping to cast out that vision over the rest of the community.

As far as goals on the gridiron, he’s decided to remain cautious.

“For this season, success will mean not having to have a play-in game. That’s a realistic and attainable goal for the kids we have coming back. I know it’s something that McNary has had to do the past two seasons,” Parker said.

Parker was born and raised in Oahu, Hawaii, where he played high school football for the Kamehameha Schools, a private college-prep institution. It was there that he decided on a path that would lead to coaching.

“The coaches played a large role in my life and turned me on to being an educator,” Parker said.

He broke his leg in the first game of his senior season and assumed it would mean the end of the road, but he returned for a playoff game in front of a crowd of 27,000 people in Aloha Stadium. His coaches made connections at Willamette University that led to him studying in Salem and playing for the Bearcats. That turn of events has made him an advocate for his players.

“I didn’t have a lot of education about the college football system and how the divisions worked. I thought after I broke my leg I was through. As an educator, one of my priorities is educating the kids about college opportunities through football. It’s a passion because of the lack of knowledge I had,” Parker said.

While Parker has been part of the Saxon program for several years, he got his start in Keizer, where he taught at both Gubser Elementary and Claggett Creek Middle schools. He’s hoped to make his way to McNary much earlier, but South Salem came calling sooner. Parker teaches advanced math at South and will take on a similar role at McNary.

“He’s going to be a great fit with our staff and curriculum in that department,” Richards said.

Parker hopes to impart the lessons he’s learned through football to each of the gridders passing through McNary’s hallowed halls.

“The culture we live in today is so individually focused that we tend to lose sight of what is possible when we work collaboratively in addition to hard work and goal-setting. We can be ambitious, but selfless. Kids who are part of football have an advantage because they learn those lesson earlier than others,” Parker said.