Victorious Return

College Football | Parker, Virginia Union top ECSU | w/video

Virginia Union 53 Elizabeth City State 0

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Virginia Union head coach Alvin Parker (right) meets with Elizabeth City State (ECSU) head coach Anthony Jones after the football game Saturday, October 27, 2018 at Roebuck Stadium in Elizabeth City. Parker was a former assistant coach at ECSU.


By Malcolm Shields
Sports Editor

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Alvin Parker, Marcus Hilliard and Monterio Hand played key roles in Elizabeth City State’s most recent successful football teams in 2011 and 2012.

The trio were assistant coaches on the Vikings’ CIAA Northern Division championship teams early in the decade under then ECSU head coach Waverly Tillar.

Over the past three seasons, each of the coaches exited ECSU for various reasons.

This season, the group reunited at Virginia Union and has the Panthers in range of a CIAA Northern Division title.

Before the Panthers could continue their run to a division crown, the group made their return to Elizabeth City Saturday afternoon as the Vikings’ homecoming opponent.

The Panthers ran early and often as Virginia Union secured a 53-0 victory against ECSU at Roebuck Stadium.

Parker, who is in his first season as the head coach at Virginia Union, acknowledged that there was some nostalgic feelings returning to Elizabeth City for the first time on the visitor’s sideline.

Parker served primarily as the offensive coordinator at ECSU for 12 years under Tillar.

Tillar was let go after the 2015 season.

During the offseason before the 2016 season, Parker was not retained by then ECSU head football coach Earnest Wilson.

Parker then served as an assistant coach at Saint Augustine’s University for two seasons.

This past offseason, Parker was named the head coach at Virginia Union.

“I didn’t know the view was like that from the visitor’s side,” Parker said after the game. “It was a little different. I was glad that we could come on the road and get a victory. It felt good to be back home.”

Parker noted the number of VUU assistant coaches that have ties to the ECSU football program.

Hilliard, who is Virginia Union’s defensive coordinator, served in the same role at ECSU.

Hilliard spent 14 seasons at ECSU as an assistant coach and led the Vikings defense during the final eight years of his tenure in Elizabeth City.

Hilliard exited ECSU during the past offseason to join Parker’s staff at VUU.

Hand, a native of Hertford County, served as an assistant at ECSU for 13 years. Hand also played at ECSU in the early 2000s.

When he became a coach, Hand played a role in recruiting and coached the wide receivers while at ECSU.

Hand was not retained by ECSU after the 2016 season.

One of Hand’s last wide outs he coached with Vikings was Montario Hunter who spent time with the Seattle Seahawks during the 2016 NFL preseason.

Hand is Union’s wide receiver coach.

Casey Turner, who played at ECSU from 2012-14 and became an assistant coach at ECSU after his playing career, is also on the Virginia Union staff as the quarterbacks coach.

Parker noted that their focus was to win Saturday’s game to stay in contention in the division.

The Panthers are in a battle with Bowie State, Chowan and Virginia State for the division title.

Parker acknowledged that the time spent at ECSU has been key to his success.

“We took this program from the ground up and was able to turn it into a championship contender, a playoff contender and a national contender on a yearly basis,” Parker said of his time at ECSU.

Parker added that he is using the same recipe that he used at ECSU now at Virginia Union.

“Our expectations is to be a contender on the national level,” Parker said of his current tenure at Virginia Union.

After the game, the former Vikings coaches shared pleasantries with their former players and coaches on the field.

Parker noted that all the players that were seniors for the Vikings in Saturday’s game were recruited by him.

The admiration for his former players was evident during the game.

In the first half when ECSU running back Gregory Bryan went down with an injury, Parker and Hand went out onto the field to check on the running back.

“All of those guys are my guys,” he said. “That’s why when Bryan went down, it felt like one of my kids because he is one of my kids.”

The Vikings (1-6, 0-5 CIAA) could not stop Virginia Union’s running game, nor could they generate consistent offense.

Virginia Union running back Tabyus Taylor rushed for 231 yards on 24 carries and had four touchdowns.

Virginia Union (6-2, 5-1 CIAA) rushed for 306 yards and tallied 506 yards of total offense in the win.

ECSU trailed 22-0 after the first quarter and by 41 points at halftime.

The Vikings once again had issues on special teams as the team gave up two safeties while attempting to punt and had another punt blocked in the second half.

ECSU was 0-of-14 on converting third downs and had 131 yards of total offense.

The Vikings tried to generate some offense by using the “Wildcat” formation with a running back taking the snap from the shotgun.

Running back Deshon Saunders took the snaps for the ECSU offense in the formation.

ECSU best chance to score occurred in the second quarter following an interception by senior Noah Tuttle.

The Vikings could not score as Union stopped ECSU on 4th-and-goal.

“Each week, we are going to work to try to get better,” ECSU coach Anthony Jones said. “What we can fix, we will. What we can’t, we’ll work to fix during the offseason. That’s all we can do. Our numbers are down. We never had enough from the start, but that’s where we are. That’s the hand that we were dealt. We will keep working. We’re not giving up. We have one more game left. We’ll work hard for that one. We’ll learn from this season. The season would be considered a waste if we didn’t learn from it.”

Jones noted that many of the Vikings issues in the game came down to execution.

The contest was the last home game for nine ECSU seniors.

“I thank those guys for being here,” Jones said.

To Jones, the lack of senior players highlights the lack of depth and the youth on the team.

“It’s a process,” Jones said. “We’ve got to have some patience.”

NOTES: ECSU backup quarterback Ezekiel Best was not available for the Vikings because of injury.