Clovis News: Sports

Clovis West picks football coach

Moving swiftly to snatch a state championship coach with Central Valley ties, Clovis West High on Monday informed Modesto Christian's Mike Parsons that he will take charge of the Golden Eagles' football program.

"We're coming home, we really are," the 1989 Chowchilla graduate said by telephone Monday afternoon. "It's very humbling and, with the state [championship] game and everything, the hits keep on coming."

Modesto Christian, a private school of 340 students, closed a 15-0 season by defeating Parker-San Diego 44-40 in the CIF State Championship Small Schools bowl Dec. 18.

Operating a modified wing-T offense out of a shotgun formation behind Fresno State recruit Isaiah Burse, the Crusaders averaged 49 points a game under Parsons, who went 63-13 in six years at the Sac-Joaquin Section program.

He'll now follow a formality that will have him interview with Clovis Unified assistant superintendents Jeanne Hatfield and Steve France, and district Superintendent David Cash before being expected to gain final approval from the district school board Feb. 10.

Parsons also is expected to be on campus and teaching undetermined courses in March.

He will be the fifth coach in five years and eighth in 13 at Clovis West, which has won eight Central Section titles since 1985.

"Most of my family lives in the Madera, Chowchilla and Fresno area," he said. "I have no aspirations to coach college or leave the state. I've been told Clovis West is the best football job in the Central Valley. I'm tickled to death; I'm not going anywhere."

Parsons apparently emerged as the clear favorite from a two-day, CIF-approved audition on campus involving eight coaches last week. Each candidate, under the observation of Clovis West area leader Hatfield, Principal Ben Drati and athletic director Joe Aiello, executed 45-minute practices that included, among other things, a running play and passing play.

Parsons, the last of the eight, arrived with a state championship game bag and his own equipment, ranging from balls to cones.

"He got down to business," said Bee All-Star running back Kendal Brock, who will return as a senior next fall. "I knew coming in he was a great coach, and when he was out there, I knew he was the guy for the job. He cracked jokes, yet was intense at the same time. And he brought creativity."

The other candidates included Clovis West 2009 interim coach Coby Lindsey and former Eagles coach Randy Blankenship, who stands prominent in the program's lore with a 90-14 record and four section titles from 1991-98.

"It did my heart good to go back where I spent eight great years with great kids," said Blankenship, who recently resigned as Madera's coach. "Walking around campus brought back tons of good memories."

Lindsey, Clovis West's male athlete of the year in 1987 and a seven-year coach in the program, has said all along he intends on remaining on staff in some capacity. And he didn't budge from that stance Monday night.

"You can always learn from somebody," he said, "and [Parsons] has gone out and done it. He's coming off a great season, he won a state championship, he runs an innovative offense and he's passionate about what he does."

Also making the final eight were coaches Jim O'Brien of Fowler, Rob Scheidt of Merced, Todd Therrien of St. Bonaventure-Ventura, former Crespi-Encino coach Jeremiah Ross and Clovis North assistant Cory Hall.