Keith Parker will become just the third coach in Boston English history to be inducted to the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association Sunday and two longtime rivals couldn’t be happier for him.
‘‘We had some great times together,’’ said former East Boston coach John Sousa. ‘‘Keith Parker is just a great role model, just a great presence for these kids in the city. I can’t tell you how many kids he’s taken under his wing and got scholarships, set up for college and given them guidance. He gave them what they don’t have in their home life. He’s given his heart and soul to English and this is well deserved and it’s an honor for me to present him the award.”
Parker will be one of six coaches inducted into the hall of fame at an annual awards banquet Sunday night in Randolph. He’ll join Tony Wood of St. John’s of Shrewsbury, North Quincy’s Ken McPhee, Bay Path’s Al Dhembe, Dighton-Rehoboth’s Dave Driscoll and Mahar’s James Woodward.
Known to his players simply as PK because that’s the way he signed into school each morning, Parker will be just the 15th coach from Boston to be inducted into the hall of fame, including two coaches from Boston Latin School. Bill Ohrenberger, who was inducted in 1965, and William Stewart, who was inducted in 1984, are the only other coaches from English in the football hall of fame.
‘‘It’s a special honor,’’ Parker said. “I’m thrilled to be able to be inducted.”
Parker chose to be introduced by Sousa, also his former assistant of 14 years and who retired from East Boston in 2009, the same year Parker retired.
Sousa is likely to be the next coach from Boston inducted into the hall of fame and he said he will return the favor by having Parker induct him. Parker will give a speech Sunday in front of about 50 family, friends, former colleagues and former players who will attend the ceremony as his guests.
‘‘I’ll be quite welled up because as I said I’ll have five tables worth of family and friends that are going to be there,” Parker said. “In my acceptance speech I’m going to point out a few things that it’s not easy to be a coach at Boston English for 30-plus years.’’
After his tenure as English’s head coach ended in 2009, Parker finished his career 141-169-5, with five Boston City League titles and two Super Bowl titles.
"He’s done a great job, and he stayed with it,” said former Boston Latin coach and Hall of Famer Paul Costello. ‘‘There were times he had better people than we did and he gave us a tough time. Other times we had a great team and he gave us fits. Most of the time he was always in the game.
‘‘He was a class act. When I retired [in 2000] they came over at halftime and gave me a plaque from English. That was very thoughtful, very classy.’’
In his first year as head coach in 1980, Parker went 8-1-1 (including a victory against Latin) and won the English’s first city title in 14 years. Parker would not beat the Wolfpack again until his best season in 1997 when the Bulldogs topped off an undefeated campaign with a 24-18 win against Greater Lawrence in the Super Bowl.
"This induction, me receiving this honor totally verifies the years I spent at English High School because you don’t get this honor unless you deserve it,’’ Parker said. ‘‘And it’s an honor from my peers.’’
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