PALATINE HILL -- Lewis & Clark offensive coordinator Isaac Parker has accepted the football head coaching position at his alma mater Willamette, Pioneers head coach Jay Locey announced on Wednesday. The move ends Parker's four-year tenure on the Pios' staff.
Parker, a 2002 graduate of Willamette, takes over a program that has a 1-17 record over the last two seasons.
"I am extremely grateful for Lewis & Clark, the athletic department, Director of Physical Education and Athletics Shana Levine and coach Locey for an incredible four years," Parker said. "I will miss the relationships I have built and know that there are a lot of lifelong friendships that I've developed there.
"I especially want to thank the student-athletes and their families for believing in me as a coach and a mentor and will forever treasure those relationships. This business we do is about more than football and the scoreboard, and I can only hope that my impact on the school and football program was equal to the impact it has made on me."
The Lewis & Clark running game shined in 2018 with Parker, first-year running backs coach Storm Woods and offensive line assistant CJ Appleton working together. Sophomore Michael Abraham was a unanimous All-Northwest Conference selection after running for 857 yards and a 5.1 yards-per-carry average. As a team, the Pios tallied 1,174 rushing yards, their most since 2011 and among the best in the NWC. Abraham finished with the second-most rushing yards per game and rushing touchdowns in the conference. Two offensive linemen, Maka Ah Loo and Devon Franklin, earned All-NWC selections as well.
Before taking over offensive coordinator duties prior to the 2017 season, Parker was the team's offensive line coach. He is the former head coach at McNary High School in Keizer, Ore. as well as an assistant at South Salem High School. He attended the 2017 NCAA and NFL Coaches Academy and interned through the 2018 Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship.
Lewis & Clark will enter the fifth season under Locey in 2019 and is coming off its first back-to-back, multi-win seasons since 2012. The Pios will host Willamette in Portland for the annual Wagon Wheel game next season. For the first time since 1992, Lewis & Clark has won the last two meetings after beating the Bearcats, 39-21, last September.
The Pioneers have the most diverse coaching staff in the NWC with a variety of experience at all levels of college football. Among the staff, the Pios have coached NFL players, in NCAA bowl games and the Division III playoffs, earned national and league championships and mentored national- and league-award winners.
17 of the team's 22 starters are scheduled to return for next season including four offensive linemen, quarterback Caden Voges, Abraham and fullback Zondre Faraj-Washington and receivers Kevin Johnson, Xavier Tharpe and Aidan Verba-Hamilton. On the defensive side, Anakin Mares, Makana LaBoy and Roger Hernandez, three of the team's top-five tacklers, will return along with Ramonne Canales, who led the team in sacks last season. LaBoy, Canales and Verba-Hamilton were All-NWC selections. Overall, six All-NWC selections will be back including defensive end Cameron Chang and Franklin.