Marty Parkhurst spent a few hours taking his longtime friend and Orting High School’s new coach out to lunch and showing him around Cardinal Stadium – that big field off to he right just as you enter the town.
That’s been Parkhurst’s field for 24 years as the school’s head football coach. He resigned in November so he could focus on his role as the school’s athletic director and dean of students, while also fully recovering from his bout with prostate cancer.
“I was sitting at lunch and I even said it’s a little weird today because of the finality of everything,” Parkhurst said.
“I think it’s really going to hit next September when I’m working the football game but not on the field. When I’m behind the fence watching. I think that’s going to be hard.”
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But he said it’s easier for one reason – because of who he’s handing the keys to.
Orting announced Monday that Randy Davis, who has won two state titles and been to five championships in his 17 years at Cascade Christian, is making a South Sound switch, leaving the Cougars to take over the Cardinals.
Davis met with his now former Cascade Christian players Monday morning before heading to Orting to get a personal tour around the town and school.
He’s been one of the most successful coaches in the state the past 14 seasons as Cascade Christian’s head coach, earning the 1A state coach of the year by The Associated Press in 2011 and 2014 and he was The News Tribune’s All-Area coach of the year in 2009.
Cascade Christian has reached the state playoffs in 12 of the past 13 seasons – winning titles in 2010 and 2014. He has a career record of 143-26.
So why leave for Orting?
It was to have that stadium – it’s all his. Cascade Christian borrowed the Sumner School District’s Sunset Chev Stadium for Saturday games. And the private school is one of four high school football programs in Puyallup.
But at Orting, that’s the only show in town.
“Cascade is great,” Davis said. “But I’ve always been so impressed with this Orting program Marty had here and how the whole town comes out, and I’ve seen that at other places like when we play at Montesano. I always thought that would be such a great experience to be the show in town on Friday nights.”
And to make matters more interesting, Orting is scheduled to open the 2018 season against Cascade Christian or the third consecutive year. So Davis’ first game will be against his former school. They’re in separate leagues (Orting in the 2A SPSL and Cascade Christian in the 1A Nisqually) but they’ve played each other in nonleague contests for what will be five consecutive years this fall.
Davis said he’s had other opportunities to leave Cascade Christian in the past, but none felt right until this job opened up about nine miles down the road.
And he’s 66 years old now.
“I’m not getting any younger,” Davis laughed. “I figure I’ve got about 5-10 years as long as my health stays of good coaching. It still got some tricks the young guys don’t, and everything just lined up and felt right.”
For Cascade Christian, it will now have to find a new football coach and basketball coach after Jerry Williams announced this is his final season there after 19 years.
“I came to Cascade Christian as an offensive coordinator and I loved that,” Davis said. “Like I told (Cascade Christian superintendent Don) Johnson this morning, for him to take a chance on me at that time with me not having much experience really opened my eyes to how much influence a coach can have and how much he can affect the lives of his players. Sometimes that’s a scary thing to think about how much responsibility you have. And you know, I embrace it. I have a philosophy I thought worked well over there and it think it will work well here where I think I can shape and form them in positive ways.”
That’s how Parkhurst approached coaching, too.
It never led to an Orting state title, but it has led to Parkhurst being one of the more revered in the coaching community.
Then in December of 2016 Parkhurst said he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He’s recovering well, he said, but the radiation treatment drained him of his energy most of this past season.
“I kind of wound down as the season went on,” Parkhurst said. “I guess I just felt like I was tired and felt like maybe it’s time to take care of myself more.”
He and Davis share similar beliefs. Parkhurst was a youth leader as part of Young Life. So he said he’s always viewed coaching as part of his youth group.
“I feel like it’s such a beautiful spot to be in to really impact kids’ lives,” Parkhurst said. “And that’s how I treated it the whole time and that’s how Randy looks at it.”
But to give up football?
“I wasn’t sure I could say these words five months ago,” Parkhurst said. “But I feel like I can now live without being a football coach. And maybe now I can pay more attention to myself and getting healthy.”
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END OF A RUN, START OF ANOTHER
Orting announced Monday that longtime Cascade Christian coach Randy Davis will be its next football coach, making the South Sound switch. He’s taking over for Marty Parkhurst, who was tied with Tahoma coach Tony Davis as the longest-tentured active coach at one school, having spent 24 seasons as Orting’s coach. Here’s how their careers compare:
Career record: 159-93
State appearances: 12
Alma mater: Rogers High School
Career record: 143-26
State appearances: 12 (2 state titles)
Alma mater: Wilson High School