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Price is right for Parkrose football


At the end of a daily-doubles practice, Tim Price, new head football coach at Parkrose High School, recaps what the team learned and tells his players the schedule for the next two-hour practice — coming up in 45 minutes. Since March Price and his coaching staff have been laying the foundation of a new system that will lead to a state championship in five years, Price said.
Bronco football fans have reason to be hopeful this season. New administrators hired 41-year-old Head Football Coach Tim Price. Unlike the last six or seven Parkrose head coaches, Price has a proven record of winning. As head football coach at Jefferson High School in North Portland, Price’s teams reached the playoffs six out of nine years, with two city championships.
Football — the game some say has become America’s pastime — is violent, yet requires grace and finesse. It caters to the quick, yet prizes the large and strong and is an intensely strategic, yet very simple game. A testosterone-fueled, all-man, all-American sport, football is not for sissies. You get hit, you get hurt, and you get beaten.
Football also serves as the ultimate metaphor for the American capitalist system: one team says to the other, “We have the ball. I’ We're going to run it through you or throw it past you — try to stop us.”

A winning, tradition-rich football program, no matter the level — grade school, high school, college or pro — produces results both tangible (people paying to see games, buying team gear, concession revenue) and intangible (school and city pride, raised self-esteem for fans, players and patrons).

Along with new Superintendent Karen Fischer Gray came a new focus on team sports, particularly football. Fischer Gray seems to understand why a competitive and successful football program is integral to a district’s inherent success, both on and off the field. So Parkrose High School has hired another football coach, and it is apparent to this reporter that he is the right kind of coach.

Tim Price is a former four-year defensive line standout at Portland State University during Pokey Allen’s successful tenure there. Originally from California, Price, a large, soft-spoken man, was recruited by Allen to play for PSU in 1988 and ‘89 and, like many first timers to Portland, he decided to stay when his playing days at PSU had ended. In 1986, while in junior college in California, Price began his coaching career, and, after starting at Jefferson in 1995, rose to become the head coach in 1997. He coached Jefferson to two city championships with six playoff appearances in nine seasons. Price left Jefferson in 2005 to become defensive line coach at Southern Oregon University, returning to Portland after two years because of family issues. What was an unfortunate situation for Price was good for Parkrose; this talented and proven football man was available.

“I heard about the Parkrose job, I knew about the history and knew what they’d been going though,” Price said, “but I threw my hat in the ring anyway. (The administration) gave me the opportunity to come in as coach, so I’m going to try and turn this program around the best I can.”

Not that it will be easy for Price. The Parkrose High School football program has been a running joke for nearly two decades. Compiling a record of losing, the Broncos have had seven head coaches in the past 10 years alone and haven’t won a Mt. Hood Conference league game since 1992. In 2005, in an attempt to revive the program, Parkrose dropped out of the powerful conference to play an independent football schedule, yielding a 2-5 record. Returning to league play the next year in the smaller 5A Northwest Oregon Conference, the team won one game. The following year it reached an all-time low with a 0-10 record.

During this long stretch of time, Parkrose School District administrators either ignored the sport or thought football was made out to be too important. Well, these folks had probably never been part of a school vying for a state football championship: there’s nothing like it.

Coming to the rescue of Parkrose football, Fischer Gray had the experience of running the Coos Bay School District and knew what a competitive, respected, storied football program could do for a district and a community. More important, she understood what steps to take to begin the process. With the hiring of Price, a competent, proven winning head coach, the new administration demonstrated not only that it understands the importance of what a winning football program can do for a high school’s self-esteem, but that a commitment to a successful high school football team engenders athletic and academic success in the entire district.

“Run, run, run, my son; you’ll need it for the fourth quarter!” said the Parkrose Bronco assistant coaches as they put the varsity football players through their paces with heavy emphasis on football fundamentals: tackling, blocking and lots and lots of conditioning.
“The kids don’t want to come up here and play. We have to show them the football program is moving in the right direction. Once we do that, parents (and) kids in the middle school will understand, ‘Okay, the coach there now knows what he’s doing, got the kids moving in the right direction.’ Then they’ll want to play,” Price said.

Price emphasized dedication over time. “It won’t happen overnight, but it’ll happen. We don’t have to win every game — or win games — we have to go out there and show we can compete with teams.”

To do that, Price has implemented huge changes in the practices. First, he said, “we gotta teach them basic stuff. We gotta teach them how to be football players. Have them believe and understand there’s a they get down and practice hard Monday through Thursday (and) the game on Friday is easy.”

In year two, he’ll integrate the grade school, middle school and Pop Warner football teams to match the system he’ll be running at the high school, ensuring continuity for the players. Also in year two, Price is hoping to be ready and competitive enough to get into the 5A Portland Interscholastic League.

Many kids play on successful football teams before high school and don’t even go out for football at PHS because of the school’s history. Price understands this. In year five, Price expects to compete for a state championship.

“I’m not saying we’re going to win a bunch of games this year, but I guarantee we won’t lose like (we) did last year. We’ll be in every game. The kids are working hard. We’re just trying to get numbers. We have 40 to 42 kids out here.”

Doug Beard, who attends almost every one of his son Donovan’s practices, was very excited about the new coach and system. “I’ve been watching my son (a sophomore) play since the fifth grade, and I’ve yet to see him get taught the basics until this year. There are seven coaches out there; last year there was one coach for 24 kids. These coaches are spending all this time this year...They started from the very beginning and started teaching. I’ve watched these kids learn more in two months...than my son has learned about football in three years.”

Beard considered taking his son to another school until he heard the new administration was serious about revamping the entire football program. “What we all want for our kids is to go to college, maybe play ball for a couple more years (and) get an education,” Beard said.

And according to Beard one of the first things Price said was a priority was to teach these kids how to make it to the next level — exactly what this parent wanted to hear. “He’s very impressive. He’s a good coach,” Beard said.
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