Parry takes charge of Niles football program
By Dan Hiner
Jim Parry is back at his old stomping grounds.
Last December, Parry was named the Niles football coach. Parry graduated from Niles and was a Red Dragons assistant under Bill Bohren in the late ‘90s.
“It’s fun to be back, obviously it’s a special place for me, but the best thing is we have a nice program in place,” Parry said. “Great booster support, great fan support, great facilities ... it’s a great place to coach.”
Parry coached Mathews for seven years, leading the Mustangs posted a 39-33 record. Mathews went 35-17 in Parry’s final five years, including a 10-0 season in 2007.
Niles has seen some tough years since its 8-3 season in 2012. Over the last five years, the Red Dragons haven’t posted a winning season and have a record of 15-36.
Parry said he doesn’t believe there was anything wrong with the program in the past. The team just needed a different prospective.
“We’ll probably run the ball a little more than people are used to seeing around here,” Parry said. “Really trying to emphasize defense and the kicking game — that’s our philosophy.”
Parry admitted the offense has had trouble adjusting to the new scheme and replacing key positions hasn’t helped.
The Red Dragons need to replace their quarterback and wide receivers. But Niles still has its top playmaker in Robbie Savin.
Savin ran from more than 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons and has scored 21 touchdowns.
Quarterback Jordan Soda is gone after graduating, but sophomore Zack Leonard and senior Jason Gibson have stepped up during camp. Parry said he might use both quarterbacks this season.
Trent Johnson is returning at receiver and several other have taken snaps at receiver.
Niles has dealt with some injuries on the offensive line prior to the season, halting adjustment along the line.
“We’ve really had that rotation going on up front,” Parry said. “I think that slowed the process down. I think in the end it will be a good thing for us. We’ll have a lot of kids who can move across the line.”
For Parry, the biggest key to the team’s success will be proper defensive fundamentals.
Parry and his staff focused on tackling throughout the summer. In July, the players were taught rugby tackling so they could continue to learn.
Savin won’t just make an impact as a ballcarrier. He is returning at linebacker and led with 76 tackles.
Johnson is returning at safety. He’ll have some help with young players. Juniors Jayden Davis and Seth McMillion and sophomores Doug Foster and Travis Molnar are each expected to see time at corner.
The defensive line is still in flux, but defensive lineman Adam McGinnis is coming back for his junior season.
Johnson and McGinnis were second team All-American Conference Red Tier selections last season.
Parry and his staff kept a similar defense scheme, so the players have had an easier time compared to the offense.
Sophomore Chase Sudzina is returning at kicker and has improved as a punter, and Parry called Sudzina the Red Dragons’ “secret weapon.
“We feel that inside of 50 yards, our field-goal unit has a chance to get points,” Parry said. “That’s something you don’t get every day in high school.
“The other thing is on kickoffs, getting the ball into the end zone. If we could do that, that’ll save my heart rate on those kick returns.”