PORTLAND — Tim Shumway traveled all the way from Glennallen, Alaska to catch Mt. Blue play Marshwood for the Class B state football championship Saturday night.
Shumway is a loyal Mt. Blue alum, but even this seemed a bit much, just to watch his Cougars play.
“This game, and Coach Parlin,” Shumway gave for his reasons for his 18-hour trip.
Shumway played football for Mt. Blue head coach Gary Parlin 10 years ago, but his loyalty to the veteran coach extends much further.
“I played for him in T-Ball, then every year of my life,” Shumway said. “Then I coached with him after I graduated.”
Shumway returns each summer to help Parlin during his summer football camp and still calls his former coach after every game. The former player was there for his former coach and as a bonus saw one of the more exciting Class B games ever as Mt. Blue edged Marshwood 44-42 for its first state title since 1986.
The offensive fireworks played into Parlin’s hands since he calls the plays. He matched wits with first-year Marshwood coach Alex Rotsko who has impressive resume of Super Bowl victories while coaching high school ball in Massachusetts. The Cougars were on their game and so was Parlin, calling run when the defense expected a pass and vice versa.
“Gary was actually more nervous for the last couple of games than he was tonight,” said Sharon Parlin, his wife of 34 years.
The casual fan would be hard-pressed to pick out Parlin as Mt. Blue’s head coach. His assistants, and there are many, paid and unpaid, do a lot of the yelling and encouragement along the sidelines. Parlin is usually thinking ahead. He’s earned the respect of his players and most of the townspeople in his 20 years as head coach and usually doesn’t need to say much.
“The guy puts an unbelievable amount of hours into it,” assistant coach Cal Dorman said.
Sharon can attest to those hours. Each Sunday morning at 5:30, Parlin and his assistants meet at the high school to brainstorm and plan the week.
“If people only knew,” Sharon said. “Every minute. He’s writing little things on napkins . . .”
Parlin’s teams are never dull. When he has a three-year starter as quarterback like Jordan Whitney this season, he uses him to best advantage, spreading the field and keeping defenses guessing
“He has a great ability to coach with what he has,” Dorman said.
The Xs and Os, though, were not why Shumway showed up or for that matter why many of his former players were at Fitzpatrick Stadium on Saturday night.
“Outside of my father there’s no one in my life who has meant more to me,” Shumway said. “He’s a great man. His character as a person is what makes him a great coach. He praises kids when they need praise, he challenges them when they need challenging, but his focus is character development in young men.”
Mt. Blue athletic director Todd Demmons has known Parlin to past few years and puts full trust in him. He’s seen how his low-key style works and so have others. Demmons said he got a letter from one of the schools they play, praising the players and Parlin for their sportsmanship. And in a year when the Cougars could have run up big scores, they rarely did.
“He let them lose with dignity and not beat them down,” Demmons said.
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638