By Justin A. Rice
Keith Parker was 10 years old when he first saw Boston English High and Boston Latin School meet on the gridiron. The Reading native watched the broadcast on his black and white television, but the oldest continuing high school football rivalry sparked a fire in the coach that would color the rest of his life.
“In those days there were 30- 40,000 fans in the stands,” Boston English High’s 65-year-old coach recalled last week. “I said ‘Boy what a great venue.’ I didn’t know the word venue at the time but I thought ‘What a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving.
“Here I am so many years later, I’ve had the opportunity to be part of a great tradition for 33 years — three as an assistant and 30 as a head coach.”
After Boston English (3-7) and Boston Latin (2-7) meet on Thursday at 10 a.m. in Harvard Stadium for the 123rd time, Parker will call it quits — leaving on his own terms despite calls for his resignation that reverberated louder than whispers the last few seasons.
“I have mixed emotions,” said Parker (141-168-5), who retired as a physical education teacher at English last year. “It’s the end of a run. I enjoyed every minute of it but it’s time to move on and step aside and let somebody else take a shot at doing what they have to do to try to beat Boston Latin and everyone else on the schedule.”