Parnell resigns as Wildcats football coach
Offensive coordinator Weldy to take reins of program
Clay Weldy was asked this week if he was interested in the Cassville head coaching job — a couple days later, he had it.
The Cassville football team will have a new head coach in 2022, as Lance Parnell has resigned from his coaching role, and Weldy, offensive coordinator for the Cassville football team, has been hired as his replacement.
Weldy said he is excited for the change.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity, and I’m excited to get going and proud to be the head football coach here,” he said. “Once Lance resigned, they talked to me and wanted to know if I was interested. I said yes, and it went from there. It kind of happened fast.
For Parnell, the speed of the decision to hire Weldy was lightyears in difference in regards to his decision to resign.
“It’s a happy time for all in the program,” he said. “There was a lot of thought, prayer and discussions with my family over the last couple years , so this is not a knee-jerk decision or even made recently. I’ve been here 26 years and have loved every minute. I’ve built countless relationships with so many kids, coaches and community members, and they are all special to me.
“The job, as enjoyable as it is, can be a little taxing, and I’m ready for a different challenge. Other coaches always told em when I was younger that when it was time, I would know, and I did. I’m excited to see what Coach Weldy does over the next several years.”
Weldy was hired on Thursday by the Cassville School Board in a unanimous vote. Merlyn Johnson, Cassville superintendent, said the decision was clear from the start.
“Activities Director Doug Martin recommended Weldy, and the board is very excited for him to be the new head coach,” Johnson said. “The discussion was very short and they believe Clay has proved himself over his years in the program and paid his dues. He’s a great team player on the coaching staff.”
Parnell said he had a hand in the hire, as well.
“I recommended Clay to Doug because of his work ethic,” Parnell said. “He’s a tireless worker who loves the game of football and has a great knowledge of the game. As offensive coordinator, he has made my job easy over the last nine years because I didn’t have to worry about the offense. He is also a great mentor to the kids, and his calm and collected demeanor will make him very successful.”
Parnell has coached for 26 years, all but two at Cassville, joining Wildcat Nation in 1998 to teach physical education and to coach quarterbacks and defensive backs. In 2002, he was named defensive coordinator, and he has been the head coach since 2013.
As head coach, Parnell went 69-37, including one state runner-up season and another journey to the state semifinals. He was defensive coordinator during the Wildcats’ two state championships in 2008 and 2009.
“There have been so many impacts on me,” he said. “One is what the program means to this community. All the years I have been here, the support has meant a lot to me, from the community to the kids, and I will miss the kids every day.
“As a coach, it’s about growing those relationships and molding good young men who will be better citizens, employees, husbands and fathers as they move into adulthood. I’d like to think I’ve done that over the last 20 years.”
Parnell will stay on with the district as a teacher, with no intention of leaving Cassville. He currently runs the weight lifting classes, but that job will go to Weldy next fall. Parnell’s new position is to be determined.
“The board wanted to emphasize how proud we are of Lance’s accomplishments as a coach,” Johnson said. “Congratulations on a job well done as an outstanding representative for the school.”
Weldy is the current offensive coordinator, a job he took in 2012 after working with wide receivers and quarterbacks and running backs. He has also been the head boys track coach and will so his 11th season with that sport in the spring.
Weldy said he plans to continue running the offense and to hire or promote a defensive coordinator.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to be head coach because my kids have been born here and I love this community, football program and district,” he said.
Weldy has had no shortage or mentors at Cassville, coaching under David Large during the Wildcats’ two championships, and running the offense for Parnell for his whole tenure.
“Those two have been unbelievable mentors to me,” he said. “From organization to big picture items and how to structure practice, but I’ve learned more than the Xs and Os, like how to mentor the kids.”
Weldy has also had another role model, his father, Aurora Head Coach Craig Weldy.
In fact, Weldy’s first home opener at Cassville will be an occasion, as the father-son duo will face one another in Week 2 of the 2022 season, Cassville’s first home game.
As head coach, Parnell’s stipend was 18 percent of his salary. As offensive coordinator, Weldy’s stipend was 12.7 percent.