Zumbrota-Mazeppa 1994 graduate Parc Williams was considered a wonderkid athlete as a teenager.
Sure enough, Williams went on to become a three-year football starter at Minnesota, a two-year captain and an honorable-mention All-Big 10 Conference choice.
As a Gophers senior, the 6-feet-3, 240-pound linebacker was chosen to play in the Blue-Grey Game and the Hula Bowl.
Now 44 years old and a physical education/health teacher and assistant football coach at Rosemount High School, Williams reflects on his Minnesota career as one of the richest times of his life.
But in terms of athletics, there’s a span that beats it out.
That was his time at Zumbrota-Mazeppa, particularly his senior year. That’s when the Cougars finished as state runners-up in football and Williams won the 110-meter hurdles state title in track and field.
“Football my senior year at (Z-M) was immense fun,” Williams said. “In high school, there is a pure aspect to playing football. When you get to college, it can get to be more of a job. In high school, you are just playing for the love of the game. You’re receiving no compensation. You’re just a kid, wanting to play. And the camaraderie part in high school, that’s a big deal.”
Williams was certainly a big deal in his years at Z-M. He was a three-sport standout — football, basketball and track and field, with football and track his best sports.
At 6-3 and usually the fastest player on the football field, Williams was a mismatch.
“Physically, he just stood out,” said former Z-M and Gophers teammate Brad Prigge, a starting fullback his last two years with Minnesota after transferring from Bemidji State. “Not only did he have that size, but he was extremely athletic along with it. You just don’t see a lot of kids with his kind of coordination. Plus, he had speed. He was the state’s 110-meter champion in the hurdles.”
There was also one additional element that Williams had going for him.
It was his desire to be out there, competing.
“I always got the sense that he loved football,” said Prigge, one year younger than Williams. “Parc loved sports and he was a big competitor. When he didn’t think we were as focused as we needed to be, he could get vocal with people and let them know what they needed to do. Everything he did, he wanted to do well.”
A running back and middle linebacker at Z-M, Williams did well enough his senior year to rush for 1,800 yards and excel on defense. His attention from Minnesota came just before that, having attended one of its high school football camps in late summer.
Big-time scholarship offers weren’t rolling in for Williams at that point, but Minnesota liked what it saw from him and offered him a scholarship just into that camp.
“I think had I lived in the (Minneapolis-St. Paul) metro, I’d have had a lot more offers,” Williams said. “I think people questioned if I could do what I was doing in high school, at a bigger level. Some people saw me as just bigger and faster than everyone else I was playing against.”
Minnesota had no scholarship remorse with Williams. He stood out at that level, too, on and off the field.
Prigge said that Williams had plenty of Gophers players looking up to him.
“Parc was extremely respected on the team,” Prigge said. “He was one of our leaders.”
Now, the respect coming Williams’ way is from Rosemount’s football players and coaches.
In Williams, Rosemount head coach Jeff Erdmann says his Irish have a special guy. Erdmann watches Williams do things the right way.
“Parc is very straightforward about establishing high expectations and always working to meet those expectations,” Erdmann said. “Parc Williams is a leader. He is used to leading and isn’t afraid of the responsibilities that come with it.”