Kevin Prisant, 26, on left, is just 10 years removed from playing for Deerfield coach Allen Lowe, but Prisant has risen quickly since leaving Albany and graduating from Georgia Southern and now leads a fairly new Heritage team into Webb Memorial tonight to face off against his alma mater and mentor for the state championship. (Photo on left courtesy of Newnan Times-Herald/Photo on right Herald file photo)
Want To Go, Listen or Follow Online?
WHO: Heritage (11-1) at Deerfield (12-1).
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. today.
WHERE: Webb Memorial, Albany.
RADIO: 107.7 FM.
LIVE SCORING UPDATES: twitter.com/AlbHeraldsports.
When Kevin Prisant glances across Webb Memorial Stadium tonight and sees Deerfield coach Allen Lowe, the memories will start flooding back.
One after another, he knows they will come.
“Right there at Webb Memorial is where I had the time of my life,” Prisant, an Albany native, said Wednesday. “And (tonight) I’m hoping I get to go back and have the time of my life again.”
The field tucked between Stuart Avenue and Friar Tuck Lane is where it all started for Prisant, who graduated from Deerfield in 2003 and returns for the first time for tonight’s GISA Class AAA state championship game as the head coach of Heritage School.
It was a decade ago when he last stepped on the field, where he played receiver and defensive back for the Lowe-coached Knights and helped lead Deerfield to its first state championship during his senior year in 2002.
It was a season that Prisant said he’ll never forget, one that will all start coming back to him as he stares across the field tonight and into the eyes of a coach he now calls “a legend.”
“I remember dumping the cooler on him my senior year when he won his 100th game,” Prisant said about Lowe, who won game No. 200 earlier this season. “(Tonight) I’m going to look across the field and see some of the players’ fathers who I grew up with. I’m going to look at that other sideline, and the memories are just going to come back.
“Right now when I think about it, it doesn’t feel any different than any other game. But I have a feeling that when the lights turn on and we are on our sidelines and I am looking across the field at Deerfield’s sideline, things will come back to me.”
Deerfield has won the state title three times since 2002, but the first time the Knights walked away champions — on the very same field they will be stepping onto tonight — has a special place in Lowe’s heart.
It was a season — and a group of seniors — that he’ll never forget.
“That whole class was a special group of kids,” Lowe said Wednesday. “They had been playing together for a while, and I came to Deerfield when they were juniors. The next year they jelled together to form a great bond and led Deerfield to the state championship.”
Prisant, who has directed Heritage to an 11-1 record in just the sixth year since the school started a football team, can still feel the bond with his former classmates.
They are the same guys who fire good-luck text messages his way every Friday night, the guys whom he still calls his best friends. One of them is even going to be in his wedding in April.
They are the guys he will never forget.
“When we were seniors, we really felt like we could do something special,” Prisant said. “I just remember the whole ride. I remember crying together. I remember when we won the state semifinal game, we spent that weekend on another player’s farm just to make sure we didn’t do anything other than hang out with each other. It meant so much to us.”
Prisant believes his Heritage team, which only lost to Tattnell Square, has that same type of bond.
“It reminds me of what we had my senior year (at Deerfield),” Prisant said.
Heritage’s 32-man roster has 14 seniors on the team, and 10 of them have been with the program since it began when they were in 6th grade, including quarterback Joe Bonner.
“(Bonner) asked me during the summer if winning a state title was the greatest feeling I had ever had,” Prisant said. “When he asked that, it felt great. Because I knew he had the right mentality. But I am making these guys understand that (tonight’s) game is about them. It’s about the kids on the field, not about me coming home. I won’t make a pass. Coach Lowe won’t throw down a block. It’s all about these kids.”
Prisant, who still has plenty of family in Albany, is just 26 years old, but he’s been on quite the journey since graduating from DWS. He first attended Darton and helped coach the Knights’ middle school and high school teams on a volunteer basis before leaving to continue attending college at Georgia Southern. After graduating, Prisant became the receivers coach and later the offensive coordinator at Bulloch Academy in Statesboro and then moved to Shellman, where he was the offensive coordinator at Randolph Southern for two years.
But it was while he was teaching a class at Randolph Southern that he first learned about the opening at Heritage.
“My fiancé sent me a text message and told me the Heritage job was open,” Prisant said. “My kids were taking a quiz, and I was just sitting at my desk. I applied that minute. I went on the GHSA website, had my resumé on a flash drive and applied right then.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Prisant has given the Heritage program stability, becoming the only multi-year coach for many of his players. In his two years in Newnan, he has a 19-4 record, while the Hawks had just 21 wins combined in the five years before he took over the program.
He has made an impression on people outside of Newnan, too.
“From what I have seen, he is a great coach,” Lowe said. “He has a very creative offensive mind that puts a lot of pressure on defenses. Everything that he does has a good, sound fundamental plan to it.”
And a lot of what he does stems directly from Lowe.
“We use some of the same terminology that I learned at Deerfield,” Prisant said. “We also run practices very similar, like with Mondays being a conditioning day. (Coach Lowe) has tradition and a program down there. I was brought here to build a tradition and program.”
It’s more than just the Xs and Os that he learned from Lowe.
“I didn’t realize it at the time, but coach Lowe and (assistant coach Craig) Rhodes had a huge impact on me,” Prisant said. “There was something about the way they handled us and lived their lives. I never realized the relationships you had to build with kids. When one of your kids puts their arms around you after a game and gives you a hug and tells you they appreciate you, there’s nothing better than that.
“The relationships they built with us when I played for them and coached with them for a year were unbelievable. If I am ever on the level of Allen Lowe, then I feel like you could call me pretty successful.”