Per usual on jamboree night, underclassmen received the majority of snaps for Ozark and Nixa on Friday and in the case of the Tigers that meant the unofficial varsity debut for Parker Elliott.
Elliott is a ballyhooed 6-foot-2, 195-pound sophomore running back and linebacker who helped Ozark's freshmen go 9-0 a year ago. Oh, by the way, he has a very famous mother in basketball circles in these parts. His mother is Melody Elliott (Howard), the legendary Marshfield and Missouri State basketball star from the 1980s and 90s.
Howard powered the Lady Jays to three state championships and led the Lady Bears to their 1992 Final Four berth. She was their career scoring leader before Jackie Stiles' arrival in Springfield and went on to play as a pro for a couple years.
“I’m very proud of my Mom,” Parker said. “She’s done great things and is a very hard hard worker and still is with her job. She’s a great person.”
Parker gave basketball a try early on in his childhood, but quickly gave it up in favor of football and baseball. His younger brother, Max, shoots hoops. Still, Parker relates his mother is a big influence on him in his athletic endeavors.
“She’s really humble. She doesn’t brag about what she did. I try to take after her and be really humble,” he said. “She’s always pushing me to do great things in life. Her motto is to always try to outwork people.”
Parker’s family has a football background, as well. His father, Forrest, played as a prep south of Houston in Dickinson, Texas. Forrest’s brother, Clay, also played at Dickinson and went on to play college ball at Louisiana Monroe.
“My Dad has told me how big (Texas football) is, how serious it gets and how hot it gets there,” Parker said. “My Dad was a quarterback and was tall and skinny. He says I take after his brother, who was more stocky. It’s fun to talk football with them while we’re sitting around the fire and watching TV on fall nights.”
Elliott also enjoys the company he keeps on the gridiron. As a linebacker and running back, he’s practicing and playing with the likes of seniors Brock Dodd, Jacob Kronebusch and Cooper Buvid and junior Gage Depee.
“They care for me and want me to do good alongside them,” Elliott said. “They want to be good and they know if they want to be good, they’re going to need a couple young guys alongside them to help. They’ve done a great job mentoring me and being there for me, teaching me tips and tricks, like how to get off the ball and get off of blocks. On offense and defense and on and off the field, they’re great guys to be around.”
Coach Chad Depee said Ozark fans can expect to see plenty of Elliott over the next three seasons.
“He’s in the mix and is willing to contribute on both sides of the football,” Depee said. “He’s a good young talent. He’s going to be making plays for us.”
Elliott will make his official varsity debut next week at home versus Carl Junction. Naturally, though, Friday’s jamboree was quite a thrill for him.
“It was amazing,” he said. “I had a great time out there. I was shaking a little bit. But you’ve just got to go out there and play. After the first play, I was good. I didn’t get the ball (on his first snap), but I hit a guy and I was like, ‘Let’s go, it’s go time.’”