ALBANY -- Coaching your own son is never easy, but at Deerfield-Windsor it's a way of life. The Knights may be the only high school football team in Georgia where three coaches have three sons playing on the same team.
That's three sons who have all helped DWS run off an undefeated season and a No. 1 ranking in the GISA Class AAA State Coaches Poll.
Head coach Allen Lowe's son, Tanner, a junior, plays on the offensive line. Offensive line coach Ty Kinslow's son, Banks, is DWS' senior quarterback, and secondary coach Craig Rhodes' son, Casey, plays split end for the Knights.
"If you coach long enough and you have children, you're probably going to coach your son, but to have three coaches on one team with three sons playing at the same time is kind of unique,'' Allen Lowe said Wednesday. "I don't even coach my son. (Ty) coaches him. I usually don't know if he played good or not until later when I watch the film with him at home.''
Lowe's younger son, Tyler, is a seventh-grader who plays quarterback and defensive back for the middle school team. His coach? That's Allen's dad and Tyler's grandfather, Graham Lowe.
"My dad has (actually) had the chance to coach both his grandsons,'' Lowe said.
Coaches expect all the players to pay attention, but the kids know even more is expected because their fathers are the coaches.
"You hope they listen,'' Allen said. "It's a unique situation."
Banks Kinslow would agree the situation is different, but it's one he truly relishes -- and not just in his final season.
"I like it because my dad's coached me in just about everything all my life," said Banks, who became the school's all-time career touchdown leader in passing last Friday when he threw five scores to give him 27 for his DWS career. "And with football, it's just kind of a man's sport, and to have your father out there encouraging you when you do well, but getting on you when you do something wrong to make sure you do it right, it's just a great situation."
"Great" is also a good word to describe this season for Deerfield (7-0), which seems to get better every week. The holes that seemed to be there in August have not only been filled, but the Knights have seen one player after another step up this season.
"You never know,'' Lowe said. "You always go in with high expectations. That's what high school football is all about, adapting your talent. We have a lot of weapons.''
The Knights have played so well that they are now in a position to not only roll into the playoffs but roll into them without leaving town.
Deerfield hosts Tiftarea on Friday night and can celebrate homecoming by making it a literal homecoming, because a victory against Tiftarea would guarantee no worse than a second-place finish in the region and that means home field in the first round of the playoffs.
DWS meets unbeaten Westfield next Friday at home, and a victory against Tiftarea and a win against Westfield would not only nail down the region title, but give Deerfield home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, including the state title game if the Knights get back there. They have played for the last two state titles, winning the championship in 2008.
BARBER CONTINUES TO BE A BEAST FOR MILLER:
Just call Colquitt the new home of Running Back U.
One season after dynamic rusher Shandre Sheffield piled up over 1,000 yards, taking his place this season was the man in his shadow a year ago: T.T. Barber, who is coming off a monster game last week against Calhoun County during which he rushed for 255 yards and three scores.
"T.T. has really had some great games, but it's really a team effort. The offensive line deserves a lot of the credit, too. They've been blocking well for him up front," Pirates coach Frank Killingsworth said Wednesday as a showdown with Region 1-A rival Randolph-Clay looms Friday in Cuthbert. "We made a little change up front recently -- moving guard Jarrett Rahymes to tight end and (Herald Dynamite Dozen selection) Juwan Jones to wing back -- and it's made all the difference. T.T.'s running hard, yes, but those guys are clearing paths for him, plus his field vision is really improving."
Last season, Barber -- who is a bruising 6-foot-0, 195 pounds -- played mostly on defense, where he led the team with over 100 tackles at inside linebacker, and when he was on offense he played FB and blocked for Sheffield, not seeing many carries. He's once again in the Top 3 on defense in tackles, says Killingsworth, but offense is where Barber is shining in 2010.
"He's out there on every snap," Killingsworth said. "He's a tough, tough guy."
Everyone wants to be No. 1, but Lee County running back Denzel Eckles loves being No. 2. Well, No. 22. In fact, that's what everyone calls him. He picked up the nickname "Deuce Deuce" years ago because he has always worn No. 22.
"When I first started playing in rec ball, they gave me No. 54, and I didn't like it,'' said Eckles, who started playing football when he was six. "The next year, I got No. 22. I was a big Dallas Cowboys fan and Emmitt Smith wore No. 22. I started noticing that a lot of good players wore No. 22, so I always wanted that number.''
He still wears it. And the nickname has stuck. And Eckles ended up becoming a running back, just like Smith.