Dennis Parker reflects on the 1988 Marshall Mavericks

Sports

When Dennis Parker took the head coaching job at Marshall High School in 1984 it wasn’t seen as a good job. In fact they hadn’t won a playoff game since 1949 and the fan base wasn’t very optimistic. 

Dennnis Parker:
This lady says I want to know how do you know when you’ve turned a program around? You’re supposed to be a guy that can turn a program around, so tell me how do you know you’ve turned it around? I said when you beat somebody you shouldn’t have beaten. Now you’ve turned it around. She said well you’ll have ten chances next year.

By year four Parker felt like the Mavericks were turning the corner. They’d finished with 8 wins in 1987 including one he says they shouldn’t have won, against Lufkin. 
but the Mavericks still hadn’t had any success with rival Longview.. losing some 19 times in a row.. so Parker decided to up the ante when it came to scheduling and brought in West Texas Power Odessa Permian


Dennis Parker:
Once we scheduled Odessa Permian everybody forgot about Longview. You’re going to get killed, Permian will score 100 on you guys.

But the Mavericks didn’t get killed, in fact they pulled off the upset that Saturday afternoon putting the Marshall football program on the map in the state of Texas. 
Later that night Parker and his staff were in Dallas to scout another game

Dennis Parker:
They announce it over the loudspeaker and they do a great job because the guy goes This afternoon, Odessa Permian 12 Marshall 13. and the crowd went nuts. They were all for us.

Parker and the Mavericks won their next 4 games with relative ease, outscoring their opponents 116-52.. but up next was perennial power Longview.

Dennis Parker:
When we played Longview that year in 1988 we were already the district champions. I’m at East Texas Sporting Goods and I’m going in to see Mack Reynolds and there’s an older lady there and she goes, You’re coach Parker right. and I said yes ma’am I am. You ain’t done nothing until you beat Longview, I don’t care if you won district or not, Yes ma’am I got you.

The 1988 team finished the regular season unbeaten but came up two wins short of the school’s first state championship falling in the quarterfinals to a Dallas Carter team who later had to forfeit their entire season. Two years later Parker would lead the Mavericks to the school’s first state title but still says that 1988 team was special. 

Dennis Parker:
Coaches for some reason don’t ever want to compare teams, I have no trouble 88 is the best football team I ever coached. If you played the 88 team against the 90 team I’d pick the 88 team. Those kids should have won state.

Seems the UIL agreed, awarding Parker with the State Coach of the Year award even without the state title, something that doesn’t happen very often.

Dennis Parker:
To get coach of the year in the state of Texas and not win the state championship in 88 that meant more to me than it did in 90 because we won the state championship.

It was Dallas Carter who ended that magical run in 1988, a team that later had to forfeit their entire season, meaning the Mavericks are the only team in Texas High School Football history to go unbeaten and not win a state championship.

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