SALIDA — Perhaps Mike Parsons has never heard of author Thomas Wolfe, who famously wrote “You Can’t Go Home Again.”
Most football coaches don’t have much time for leisurely reading, and maybe that’s a good thing for Modesto Christian’s football team.
Parsons posted a 63-13 (.829) record at MC from 2004 to 2009 – including a 15-0 mark and a state championship in his final season – before moving on to Clovis West (Fresno).
Monday, he was introduced as the Crusaders new coach, replacing the departed Steve Gleason, who was 20-23 in four seasons.
Parsons may not have heard of Wolfe, but he has heard of 1980s “hair band” Cinderella.
“You know, I’m an ’80s guy so I grew up with the hair bands,” Parsons, 42, told a gathering of about 35 players just moments after meeting most of them for the first time. “There was this band called Cinderella and they had a song called, ‘Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone).’
“Great song – you guys would hate it – but it kind of sums up why we’re back.”
After leading MC to the state title, Parsons was lured away by the ultra-successful Clovis West program – one of four schools on the planet to have more than one win against mighty De La Salle (including one shutout) – and guided the Golden Eagles to a section title his first year in Fresno.
But the Clovis West job is a pressure cooker, and after posting a 10-24 mark the past three seasons, he resigned in December and began looking for a smaller program.
Like Modesto Christian.
“It’s a big place,” said Parsons of living in the Fresno-Clovis area. “It’s a city, and we were looking for that sense of community.”
When the Modesto Christian job opened up, Parsons moved quickly. He was also in the running for jobs at Chowchilla, Madera South, Hanford West, Folwer and El Capitan (Merced).
Born in San Jose, Parsons graduated from Chowchilla High and played two seasons at Merced College. After a year at Washburn College in Kansas, he played his final collegiate season at San Francisco State. He plans to run the shotgun Wing-T offense, which former MC standout Isaiah Burse operated to perfection during the state-championship march, and a 3-3-5 defense.
Kory Mora, an All-District and All-State offensive lineman last season, was impressed with what he heard.
“I’m really happy,” said Mora, whose brother, Kris, was a member of the title team. “I believe he’s going to give us structure; the last couple of years we were drifting and weren’t really a team.”
Last year’s squad had just 22 players, but that didn’t frighten Parsons.
“Our ’09 team only had 25 varsity players and we brought up six sophomores for the playoffs,” said Parsons. “During my first go-around here, seven players showed up for the very first weight-room session.”
Loaded roster or not, Parsons said he’s thrilled to be back.
“This place has everything we want,” said Parsons, who was joined at the gathering by his wife, Stacy. The couple has three young daughters. “We know what we’ve got, because we’ve been here before.”
Oddly enough, the same 1988 Cinderella album – “Long, Cold Winter” – that gave us “Don’t Know What You Got” also produced another song that hit the charts.
Its title? “Coming Home.”