Blair building for the future

Above: Blair’s Trayvon Wysinger gains yards as they play Temple City.

For whatever reason, this story made the paper but not the website. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Anyway, just some notes on what direction Gary Parks wants to take Blair football.

By Miguel A. Melendez
Staff Writer

Gary Parks is a man on a mission.

The first-year Blair High School football coach, who has not been fazed by the Vikings’ dismal season, has made a strong effort to change the perception of the football program.

Blair (1-5, 0-2) took the Rio Hondo League by surprise last season, when it clinched a share of the league title, but with the Vikings struggling this year pundits are saying they’re seeing the same ol’ Blair of the past.
Not so fast.

“We’re building a foundation for next year,” Parks said. “We’ve had some bumps and bruises, but we’re changing our attitude and to me that’s important.”

Parks received a written letter from a La Caada parent addressed to Parks and the rest of his coaching staff after the Spartans (3-4, 1-1) beat the Vikings, 33-0, two weeks ago.

The author of the letter went on to write she’d never seen such discipline, sportsmanship and class in the demeanor of Blair players.

“Even in the seats, she saw an attitude that far outweighed wins and losses,” Parks added. “It lets us know that people are noticing what we’re building. That hasn’t transcended on the field yet, but we don’t have that ghetto attitude. We’re getting classy.”

Parks, who previously served as an assistant at Verbum Dei, made it clear from the beginning he wanted to make a change in attitude, and it needed to start with every player before addressing wins and losses.

Among the changes Parks has made is implementing an academic counselor for the program; a mandatory tutoring session that carries a no-playing time penalty for players who miss the tutelage; a pancake breakfast fundraiser; new uniforms and warm-up suits free of charge to players.

Parks has his friends, colleagues and alumni from Verbum Dei to thank. They helped in providing a one-year assistance as Parks transitions from assistant to head coach.

“After that I’m on my own,” Parks joked. “But now I have a full year to fundraise so we’re going to make some big things happen.”

That includes possibly hosting a banquet honoring the Pasadena Fire marshal and police; starting a freshmen team three years from now; new uniforms (like those worn by the University of Oregon) for the varsity team (this year’s new uniforms will be given to the junior varsity) and playing home games at Blair.
Parks said the school administration “has been 100 percent supportive” and is receptive to his ideas.

“If we come together as a unit, nobody can stop us,” Parks said.

Blair’s Marcus Bagnerise left by ambulance with a morphine drip at halftime during last Thursday’s game against Temple City.

It initially was feared Bagnerise, a sophomore, broke his right leg but Parks confirmed he’s OK and suffered only a deep bone bruise. There are no fractures or breaks.

“It’s a big relief for us,” Parks said. “It worried us because he’s a big contributor to the basketball team and for a big injury to come at the end of football and the start of basketball would have been dreadful.”

In the Vikings’ 56-13 loss to the Rams (3-4, 1-1) last week, Blair was missing four key players.

Troy Gentry (pelvic bruise), Armstead Williams (left ankle), Deancea Caldwell (knee) and Jamall Blackwood (left shoulder) did not play but are expected to return Friday when Blair visits San Marino (7-0, 2-0).

“We’re upbeat,” Parks said. “I think we gave T.C. a little bit of a scare for a while.”
With the Vikings out of contention for a league title or CIF playoff berth, Parks said they’re relishing the role of spoiler.

“We’re going to shock one of these two teams out the door,” Parks said.
Blair wraps up its season against the Titans, Monrovia and South Pasadena.
(626) 578-6300, Ext. 4485

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