Dennis Parker reflects on his return to Idabel

Sports

Dennis Parker was enjoying his retirement. He was teaching character in Huntington Texas and spending a lot of time on what he called the 3rd tee box. 
But the one school in the entire country that could lure him out of retirement. His hometown Idabel Warriors, and they needed his help making the football program viable again. 

Dennis Parker:
We’re Idabel, we’re Warriors, I said that would be a great way to end.

He came to McCurtain County with some pretty lofty goals. 

Dennis Parker:
I said three things I said I’m not going to leave until we win the district championship, we hadn’t won one in over 32 years. I’m not going to leave until we’re in the top 10 in the state of Oklahoma and I’m not going to leave until we get passed the 2nd round.

Parker had his work cut out for him. See the Warriors had won just 11-games in the last four years and hadn’t beaten rival Broken Bow in more than 10 years. 

Dennis Parker:
The first year I came here I came here in February and we had 9 kids in the offseason, nine. I said boys y’all have to go find two more or we can’t even play. 

Parker still believed he could turn it around and he did, in fact in four years leading the Warriors they won 31 games, advanced to the state quarterfinals, finished 2-2 against Broken Bow, and won the school’s first district championship since 1985. 

Dennis Parker:
Four years ago I came here and talked about winning the state championship and people looked at me like I was on drugs or something and then this year we got beat in the quarterfinals and they were disappointed.

Tim Owens:
That expectation changed.

Dennis Parker:
That’s right. You should have won it all and you go yeah we should have.

In four short years Parker helped build a practice field and a field house. He also changed the perception of Idabel football on the state level. 

Dennis Parker:
I read in the paper where Oklahoma City John Marshall won the State Championship and they had beaten “Powerful Idabel”. I thought I bet that word was never used with Idabel before. 

Still, with all of the accolades and state championships he had throughout his career, his one district championship in his hometown touched his heart on a completely different level.

Dennis Parker:
We beat Broken Bow the first year I was here 23-21 on a last second field goal and people come out of the stands and they go crazy and this women, Judy Kaufman, who worked with my mother in the cafeteria 50 years ago, walks up to me and she says your Mama would be proud. That to me is the greatest compliment I’ve ever gotten in 43 years of coaching. Your Mama would be proud.
 

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