By Rob Patrick
One of the best quarterbacks in Bryant Hornets football history has returned to[more] serve as the new offensive coordinator of the team.
A 2003 graduate, Lance Parker still owns more than a handful of records for the program including total offense for a season (3,349) and a career (5,995), career passing yardage (5,379) and touchdowns (45).
Parker was officially hired on Wednesday to replace Dale Jones, who’s the new head coach at Poyen.
Parker has been coaching for three years. After graduating from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia where he played three seasons, he went to Texas for two years. Last year, he was the defensive coordinator at DeSoto Central High School in Southaven, Miss.
“I’ve kept up with him his whole college career,” noted Hornets head coach Paul Calley, who was offensive coordinator himself (along with former head coach Daryl Patton) when Parker played. “We’d talk a lot. Anytime he would have a break, he’d come by and we’d get on the board and talk football. We just always had a good relationship. And I knew when he was a player that he was destined to be a coach. He was just that kind of kid. I’m very excited about having him back.”
Lance is the son of Jim Mack and Robin Parker of Bryant. He’s the grandson of legendary football coach “Red” Parker.
“Ever since I got out of college, I knew I wanted to come back here and coach,” he said. “I just hadn’t had the opportunity until now. It’s a great place to coach and we’ve always been looking to come back home and get involved with this program because it’s been so important to me as far as growing up. I’ve wanted to come back and try to contribute and to help the same ways that I was helped. I feel like I kind of owe Coach Calley and the other coaches. They’ve kind of inspired me to want to coach and help the kids of this community.”
Out of high school, Parker signed initially with Vanderbilt but circumstanced changed and he transferred to UCA in Conway where, he says, “I wasn’t good enough to play.
“But I wanted to play really bad,” he added. “I was going to go to a junior college but I decided to go down to Ouachita because of my grandfather, and I’ve known Coach (Todd) Knight a long time. He gave me an opportunity.”
After coaching a year on defense at DeSoto, Parker said he’s ready to get back on offense.
“I’m ready to do what I’m a little more comfortable with,” he acknowledged. “I’ve learned that there’s a ton of right ways to do things. Some people just have preferences and most of the time they do what they know. The thing here is that Coach Calley has built a very successful program doing, essentially, very similar things along the way. I’m not looking to come in here and mix things up. We’re going to try to keep it the same as it’s been going. I’m going to try to add some things here that I’ve learned to spice it up a little bit.”
“He’s exceptional on the offensive side of the ball,” Calley stated. “And I'm sure he was on defense too. It’s just evident watching him work with our kids and the way that he can explain things. He knows exactly what he wants to do, exactly how it’s supposed to be done. The different things that he brings are going to help us.
“I’ve learned a lot of football over the past three years,” Parker said. “The main thing is, whatever you do you’ve got to keep it simple and make sure the kids buy into it. And most of the time, it’s going to work if you do those things.”
Parker and his wife, Kelly, have a young daughter, Ella Kate, who is about to turn 1. Fatherhood, as might be expected, has had no small effect on him.
“You think you’ve got everything figured out until the baby comes along then you definitely have a priority shift,” he noted. “It’s been good. I never thought I’d love to stay at home and watch cartoons but that’s what I look forward to now. It’s been a blessing.”
It’s also certainly a blessing to his parents that Lance has returned and, to an extent, a bittersweet homecoming because his younger brother, Logan, was recently killed under suspicious circumstances in Little Rock. Logan Parker, who followed in his brother’s footsteps as a Hornets quarterback, was just 21.
“The events that happened with my brother were tragic,” Lance said. “There’s not a whole lot that can be said about it. I am very thankful for the friends of my parents and me and everybody else involved that kind of embraced them. It definitely helped us get through a very tough time. We’re not out of it yet but they helped us a lot. I can’t imagine what somebody would do without that kind of support.
“And it really confirmed why I wanted to come back to Bryant,” he concluded. “It’s a great community, just a great place to be.”