Vik­ings get new coach, pre­pare for new year

Parker steps into lead­er­ship role af­ter 5 sea­sons as as­sis­tant

Dorchester Star - - SPORTS - By DAVID INSLEY dins­ley@star­dem.com

— Gaven Parker knows he’s only the sec­ond man in more than half a cen­tury to coach a Cam­bridge high school foot­ball team bear­ing the name of the town, who didn’t ac­tu­ally go to school there.

“The other one was Doug Fleet­wood, I know,” said Parker, who was named head coach of the Cam­bridge-South Dorch­ester pro­gram on April 27. “Big shoes there.”

Fleet­wood, who grad­u­ated from North Dorch­ester in 1971, was the Ea­gles’ last quar­ter­back be­fore the school dropped foot­ball af­ter the 1970 sea­son. Fleet­wood’s pre­de­ces­sor, Gor­ton McWil­liams, was a 1953 Cam­bridge High grad. All of Fleet­wood’s suc­ces­sors — cur­rent C-SD prin­ci­pal David Bromwell (2000-02), Scott Dod­son (2003-04), Jake Cole­man (2005-08, 2010-17), and Mon­tre Jenk­ins (2009) — played for him at Cam­bridge-SD.

Parker also played for Fleet­wood, but at Sal­is­bury Univer­sity. The small-world theme of the Vik­ing pro­gram is par­al­leled there as well. Parker, a Lau­rel (Del.) High alum­nus, grad­u­ated from SU in 2013, a decade af­ter Cole­man.

Cole­man, who led Cam­bridge-SD for 12 years, com­pil­ing an 85-53 mark dur­ing that span, stepped down as head coach last spring, but re­mains an as­sis­tant.

Dorch­ester County foot­ball his­to­ri­ans also know Fleet­wood is the only coach to win a state ti­tle in that town, earn­ing cham­pi­onships in 1979, 1995, and 1996. Is there a sim­i­lar­ity in that, too?

“Oh, man, don’t put any pres­sure on me now,” Parker re­sponded with a laugh when asked about his sim­i­lar­ity with Fleet­wood. “I just got here.”

Hum­ble to a fault, Parker knows the history of per­haps the most sto­ried Bay­side Con­fer­ence foot­ball pro­gram. He’s been here for a bit of it, hav­ing come on board in 2013, the year the Vik­ings made their first state fi­nal-four in over a decade with a 42-0 Class 1A

East Re­gion fi­nal rout of Per­ryville.

“It’s a priv­i­lege and an honor to step in and take over some­thing that has such his­tor y,” Parker said, “a com­mu­nity that prides it­self on the foot­ball team. I’m in a cool lit­tle niche, be­cause Doug Fleet­wood is the rea­son I’m here.

“He pointed me in this di­rec­tion, fin­ish­ing up my se­nior year of foot­ball,” Parker added. “I spent my last five years on staff here at C-SD, three years as the var­sity of­fen­sive line coach, and the past two as the of­fen­sive play caller.”

Fill­ing Cole­man’s shoes, Parker said, would be hard.

“Jake’s ob­vi­ously my men­tor,” Parker said, “and did a lot for this pro­gram. And I think one thing that Jake did is he set me up for suc­cess. You know, there are a lot of things that he had worked re­ally hard to get to­gether. Ob­vi­ously, we do a phe­nom­e­nal job fundrais­ing and that’s gonna con­tinue. We have a cul­ture of win­ning.

“I haven’t changed the com­plete mind­set here, just a few changes here and there,” Parker con­tin­ued. “We did the sum­mer a lit­tle dif­fer­ently. I think we’re con­di­tion­ing a lit­tle dif­fer­ently.”

One dif­fer­ence is the ad­di­tion of Al Wa­ters as de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor. Wa­ters is well known for his 15 sea­sons work­ing with head coach Donny Graef at Queen Anne’s County. Along with Wa­ters from Queen Anne’s comes Matt Phillips, an in­struc­tor for of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive line­men.

“I think the big­gest on­field thing you’ll see is the de­fense, is Al Wa­ters,” Parker said. “He’s brought his style and his men­tal­ity to the team. Jake did a phe­nom­e­nal job build­ing a sup­port sys­tem. I am blessed to have the sup­port of the staff, guys who’ve been around a long time, plus Al and Matt.”

Though he wouldn’t di­vulge his de­fen­sive scheme, say­ing, “we’ll leave that to the (game) film,” Parker did say, “Al has built him­self a rep­u­ta­tion of hav­ing very dis­ci­plined de­fenses, and he has tried to find a way to be very suc­cess­ful against Bay­side of­fenses.”

Up front on de­fense will be the for­mi­da­ble pres­ence of 6-foot-5 ju­nior Tranell Clan­ton, a 250-pound de­fen­sive end who can also play line­backer, and will see time as tight end on of­fense. Avery Ni­chols and Hy­keem Crop­per, along with Caleb Scott and Dy­lan Doll fill out the de­fen­sive line, with Ma­lik En­nals, Don­ald Banks, Jeremy Tay­lor, Ja­cob Smith, Cam­ren Lake, and Clan­ton pro­vid­ing back-up.

“Tranell is a guy who moves well for his size and he’s ex­tremely phys­i­cal,” Parker said of Clan­ton. “He’s got a lot of up­side.”

Kha­lik Beasley, Shamar Young, and Lo­gan Mid­dle­ton join Ja­son Roberts and Dario Belizaire in the sec­ondary.

Many of the de­fen­sive backs will also re­turn kick­offs and punts. The kick­ing and punt­ing du­ties — a Vik­ing strength for the last 15 sea­sons or more — may fall to soccer player Drew Warfield.

The quar­ter­back po­si­tion, as of late last week, was “still un­de­cided,” ac­cord­ing to Parker, but will be­come the job of ei­ther sopho­more John Henry or se­nior Jyquan Far­rare.

“John’s got some tal­ent and po­ten­tial, and Jyquan, he pro­vides some se­nior lead­er­ship, and he’s re­ally hun­gry. We’ll see,” Parker said. “I think we’re gonna be quick with the ball, but our line work is still com­ing along.”

Stick­ing to the sweep-heavy, Ve­gas-pack­age-sprin­kled of­fense that’s be­come a sta­ple, Parker will rely on Beasley, En­nals, Young, Ethan Blood­sworth, Lake, and Belizaire to carry the load. Mid­dle­ton and Roberts will spread things out as re­ceivers.

Block­ing will be se­nior cen­ter Scott in the mid­dle, along with of­fen­sive line­men in­clud­ing ju­nior Avery Ni­chols, his sopho­more brother, Ira, Ryan Frac­caroli, Ray John­son, Doll, and Dar­ian Gabriel.

Does the opener against Queen Anne’s have any spe­cial im­port, since it’s Parker’s de­but, and a cou­ple Lion as­sis­tant coaches have come on board?

“It’s no more than any other game,” Parker said. “I think it’s just a game, and ob­vi­ously they (Wa­ters and Phillips) have an emo­tional at­tach­ment to the kids which is the hard­est piece of this. It’s not nec­es­sar­ily school-ver­suss­chool, but they have time in there. These guy are ded­i­cated guys, and they have put in time and en­ergy.

“It’s a one-game sea­son, every week,” Parker said. “We’re look­ing to go 1-0; Queen Anne’s is very tal­ented, they’re a large team, and there’s no look­ing at it any other way. We’re gonna take it one week at a time.

“I think one thing Cam­bridge has al­ways done well is, we’re not

scared of any­one,” Parker added. “These are good teams, they’ve got some good ath­letes on them. Ob­vi­ously we have to have our ducks in a row, but we’re not sit­ting here chalk­ing up losses, not say­ing there’s only six games we can com­pete in.

“Is the re­al­ity of maybe go­ing 0-3 there?” Parker asked rhetor­i­cally. “Ob­vi­ously it’s a pos­si­bil­ity. But we’re not ex­cuse mak­ers. Whether we start the sea­son 3-0, 0-3, 1-2, or 2-1, we’re go­ing to ... get into a rhythm here, win or loss. We’ve got to get our­selves into a weekly kind of reg­i­men.

“What sets us apart from other pro­grams is we don’t make ex­cuses,” Parker said. “We’re a 1A school, and we get four kids, we’ve got of the 70 kids in the pro­gram, four kids who are ‘out of dis­trict,’ four who live in the North Dorch­ester area. The teams that beat us, beat us .... That’s just how we’re go­ing to play it. We’re not gonna worry about things we can­not con­trol.”

PHO­TOS BY DAVID INSLEY

Cam­bridge-South Dorch­ester’s new head foot­ball coach, Gaven Parker, strides across the field dur­ing last week’s scrim­mage against Park­side. Parker makes his coach­ing de­but at 6:30 p.m. Fri­day at home against Queen Anne’s County High.

The Cam­bridge-South Dorch­ester back­field in­cludes se­nior Jaquan Far­rare (sec­ond from left), who’s in the run­ning for the job as start­ing quar­ter­back. The Vik­ings open their 2018 sea­son at home against Queen Anne’s County on Fri­day at 6:30 p.m.

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