Bobby Parrish didn’t expect this day to come back around, for this job title to be his once again, but here he is, once again a head football coach.
Parrish, who enjoyed success in the role at Williamson from 1999 until 2011, was named head football coach at Cottage Hill Christian last week. He was promoted to the position after spending three seasons as the Warriors’ defensive coordinator on Chris Brazell’s staff.
Toward the end of the past school year, Cottage Hill announced Brazell was stepping away from his athletic department duties as the school’s athletics director, head football coach and head baseball coach; he was promoted to the post of head of school at Cottage Hill. Parrish was named the interim head coach shortly after the announcement of Brazell’s new duties and last week, the interim tag was removed.
And while the decisions and the moves may have come as a bit of a surprise to Parrish, who admits he didn’t expect to ever be a head football coach again, they apparently were all part of Brazell’s plan.
“First and foremost, three years ago he was the first call I made to join my coaching staff,” Brazell said of Parrish. “He was over at Ocean Springs [Mississippi] at the time. I knew the impact and his investment on my life as a student-athlete at Theodore in the late ’90s, and I knew he’d be a perfect fit at Cottage Hill.
“He sets a high standard and he’s going to be a familiar voice for our senior class. I’m excited for the days ahead and to watch him and the team on Friday nights. Coach P. is a man of integrity who I would want my child to play for, and he’s added so much value to Cottage Hill the past three years during his tenure. I can’t say enough about Bobby Parrish.”
A smooth transition was a factor in the decision to promote Parrish to the position, but so was his past success and the impact he has already had at the school, Brazell said.
“Over the last three years, this transition has been important,” he said. “Plus, over the last three years, our defense has set numerous school records and has kept us in ballgames and we’ve been able to be efficient on both sides of the football. Anytime you can hire a 95-game winner and insert him into a place he’s familiar with, I think that will be a plus for our student-athletes and it’s a perfect opportunity for success in the days ahead.
“When it was going to be announced that I was going to be head of school, I went immediately to Coach Parrish and asked him if he would take all the football-related questions and run activities for the month of June and be the interim head coach. When things settled down, probably in a 24-hour period, I said, ‘Hey, I’d really like you to consider taking the head job.’ And he said, ‘Absolutely, whatever you need me to do, I love it here.’ That’s why I think it’s a no-brainer.”
During Parrish’s time at Williamson, the Lions posted a 95-57 record that included a 10-5 record in his first season, 1999, in which the Lions reached the Class 5A state championship game with a freshman quarterback named JaMarcus Russell. In 2000, the Lions reached the state semifinals and posted a 12-1 record. They also reached the state semifinals in 2007, going 10-4.
His final season at Williamson was 2011. From there, he entered administration for four years and was an assistant principal at LeFlore. He decided to retire from the Alabama school system and he took an assistant football coaching job in Mississippi.
After nine years, Parrish will return to the sidelines as a head coach for the 2021 season.
“It was a big decision,” he said. “Coach Brazell asked me to do it once he found out he was going to be head of school. We were in spring [practice] at that time and he asked if I would be the interim [head coach] and if I would like it and if I would apply for it. So he put the interim tag on me and we finished the spring up. We stayed in contact about taking on the job and we came to the decision that I was going to do it.
“That’s something that I honestly had no plans of doing, but I can honestly say my plans are not always God’s plans, and this was a situation that we felt like the kids needed some familiarity and I have been there for three years and they know me and I know the kids. It was a big step. I’m excited about seeing if we can get the program moving forward.”
The longer Parrish has been in the position, without the interim tag, the more it has appealed to him.
“I’m definitely excited about it,” he said. “Once I committed — and that’s the thing, I wanted to make sure — but once I made the decision that this is what I wanted to do and that I wanted to take over, yes, I’m definitely excited about it.”
He takes over a program that was 23-9 in Brazell’s three seasons as head coach, including two playoff berths and the program’s only playoff victory. The Warriors were 10-2 in 2018, Brazell’s first season, the best record in the school’s history. Cottage Hill had won only a combined 21 games the eight seasons prior to Brazell taking over the program.
“He did a great job and I was glad I was a part of the staff and got to coach with him,” Parrish said. “I still think the program is moving forward and we have the athletes to compete, but again, year in and year out, you’ve got to make sure you get those kids involved at a young age and try to develop them then so when they get older they can move up in the program. There’s no doubt we have the athletes to do it.”
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