Etna Lion Parker Finley to play football at College of Idaho
Etna's Parker Finley wants other high school athletes from small communities like his own to know it is possible to continue playing sports after graduation.
Finley, a standout football player for the Lions, has committed to play football for the College of Idaho Coyotes at the NAIA level.
Last weekend, Finley and his family drove to Caldwell, Idaho, located about 20 minutes from Boise, to visit the campus and meet the football coaches. He said he was impressed with the school, from the beauty of the campus, to the coaches and the academics, and knew this was the right school for him.
“Everyone was great, and I liked the atmosphere and how nice the college was,” he said. "I was glad I was able to see it in person.”
“Parker’s work ethic will take him far. He will do what it takes to get his opportunities,” Etna High head football coach Wade Dickinson said. “The Coyotes are lucky to get such a quality player (and) person."
Parker said he also considered going to Butte College in Oroville, which was quite interested in him, and he also received interest from NCAA D3 program Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.
While Willamette contacted him, Parker said he initiated contact with four schools, including College of Idaho and Butte. The first time he sent his game tape to College of Idaho, he did not hear back. His parents encouraged him and told him not to give up. He sent it again a second time and was contacted a short time later.
After all, he said, it is more of a challenge getting recruiters' attention playing for a small rural high school and one has to do a bit of leg work to get noticed.
“Never give up no your dreams,” he said. “You can do it if you work hard and set your mind to it."
Finley was contacted by Coyotes assistant coach Chandler Jones, who coaches the wide receivers and is the recruiting coordinator for the team. Jones is a former wide receiver standout for San Jose State who was on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad and played two seasons with the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL. Finley said he had a number of positive conversations with Jones and has come to know the school's football program better that way. When he was invited to visit the campus, he jumped at the chance.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Finley couldn't play his senior year of football. Not having senior game film made getting recruited more of a challenge but he strongly believed he has what it takes to play in college.
Five foot, 10 inch Finley is expected to be a slot receiver for the Coyotes although he played quarterback his junior year at EHS. Finley mainly ran the ball for the Lions, also as a returner. He was a player who could rack up the yards and finished the season with 1,189 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. He averaged an exceptional 9.9 yards per carry and threw for three touchdowns.
Coach Dickinson said Finley has been an exceptional player for the Lions both on and off the field.
“Parker not only is a great football player, he is a great person,” Dickinson said. “Parker is the most humble, unselfish athlete I have been around. He leads by example, works as hard as anyone on the grass, and is truly a caring teammate. He is willing to spend time helping his teammates no matter their skill level. Parker is exactly how you would like your own kids act.”
In addition to the draw of football, Finley said he likes that the College of Idaho has a good academic reputation. Finley currently has a 3.6 GPA and received both academic and athletic scholarships. Finley plans to study criminal justice.
Finley said he was impressed with all the COVID-19 safety precautions College of Idaho has in place. The football team is scheduled to play games this spring and there will likely be a season this fall as well.
The Coyotes finished the 2019 season 11-1 overall, with its only loss coming in the NAIA playoffs.
The head coach for the Coyotes is Mike Moroski, who was a longtime offensive coordinator at UC Davis and a backup quarterback in the NFL, including with the San Francisco 49ers in 1986.
Finley said his goal in college is to contribute any way he can to the team and he's ready to put in the work needed to succeed on the collegate level.
“I just want to go out and get better,” Finley said.
Finley thanked Dickinson and the entire coaching staff at EHS in helping make him a better football player and person. He said they were always there to mentor and encourage him. He also thanked those at the high school for giving him a great education that will prepare him for college and to his family for always being there for him.
Finley has played football since the fifth grade and he said it was an honor and a privilege to have played the sport with a close group of friends.
Finley also played basketball and baseball at EHS. He said he doesn't plan to play basketball this year if it restarts, but would play baseball and football if there are seasons this spring at EHS.
“Parker will bring great athletic ability to the Coyotes,” said coach Dickinson. “I see him on the offensive side doing multiple things. Catching the ball and running the ball. He has vision and the ability to make people miss. His speed will make it difficult on defenders ... It has been a privilege to spend the time with Parker. I’m excited to see where he takes himself. He’s going to do great things in life. His parents should be proud of the young man they have raised."