Deerfield-Windsor football coach Allen Lowe, who is in his 26th season as the leader of the Knights, claps as his team comes off the field Friday night following a 42-9 win at Webb Memorial Stadium against Sherwood that marked Lowe’s 200th career victory. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — The moment didn’t come until after it was over — that tug-at-your heart moment that everyone knew would be there Friday night took it’s sweet time to rise above the noise and celebration.
But after it was over, after the Deerfield-Windsor kids had beaten Sherwood Christian, 42-9, in the city rivalry game of the year; after Kh’Ron McClain had dazzled them at Webb Memorial Stadium, running for 186 yards and three TDs; and after the kids had grabbed the barrel of Gatorade and made the mad rush to soak their coach — after the hugs and smiles and celebration on the field ...
That’s when the moment came.
Lowe was alone with his kids. They huddled together.
Lowe turned to them and said, “I love you.’’
That was the cherry on the icing on the cake Friday night at Deerfield, where Lowe won his 200th game as a high school head football coach.
“We love him,’’ said McClain, his voice soft and sincere.
They all felt that way.
“I wouldn’t want to play for any other coach,’’ two-way lineman Weston King said. “The way he carries himself on and off the field, he is truly the perfect mentor any parent would want to coach his or her kid. He puts his heart into it.’’
McClain smiled real big and stretched his arms out.
“He’s open arms,’’ McClain said. “He’s open arms.’’
That’s Lowe’s legacy — kids who love him as much as Lowe loves this game, loves his team and loves Deerfield.
He joked after the milestone win about how far he has come.
“I set the record at Deerfield for having three interceptions in the same game when I played here. That was 1976,’’ he said before adding with a laugh: “I’m tied for the record with two other guys. Of course, I had to bench one of them so he wouldn’t break the record.”
Lowe dodged the Gatorade bath, and now in his 26th year as a head coach, he proclaimed, “I’ve still got some quickness in me.’’
King then laughed and said, “He hasn’t moved that fast in four years.’’
It’s all gone by so fast for Lowe, 26 years and counting. He has had two stints at DWS. He became the head coach there in 1987, then left to coach at Calvary Day from 1995 through 2000, before coming back home to Deerfield, where he has won 160 of his magical 200.
“I’m glad he came back,’’ DWS athletic director Gordy Gruhl said. “He was always a great Xs and Os coach and innovative on offense, but when he came back he became a better and better coach.’’
Ironically Gruhl, who is a legendary basketball coach, got his 100th win earlier this year against Sherwood.
“Yeah, I thought about that this week,’’ Gruhl said.
Lowe is now 200-101-3 with a 5-1 team that hasn’t lost in Georgia and looks good enough to win another GISA Class AAA state title.
Lowe has won three: 2002, 2008 and in 2010 when his Knights were a perfect 13-0. He thought about the 2002 team earlier this week during one of the few times he stopped to ponder No. 200.
“I saw the ball in my house, the game ball from the 100th win, and I was thinking that was 10 years ago almost to the day,’’ Lowe said. “And I got a little emotional earlier (on Friday morning). It’s pretty special.’’
Lowe had trouble talking about the best of the 200 on Friday after the win — there were just too many memorable moments — and said all of the memories rushed by him. He talked about three state titles and Troy Puckett’s 40-yard field goal at the gun that won the 2010 state semifinal game, and then he just starting talking about the kids — all the kids over the years. That’s what tugged at his heart more than anything — the kids, his kids.
“I’m blessed that God gave me the longevity to polish my football skills,’’ Lowe said smiling before adding: “Because they sure weren’t polished at the beginning.’’
Then he turned serious and emotional.
“And I’m blessed to have a family who understands the life of a coach,’’ he said.
The kids danced around Lowe at the end of the game, jumping and shouting and holding up two fingers to symbolize the 200th win, and they shouted to the heavens in unison: “200!” as they broke the huddle and headed to the center of the field for the postgame meeting.
That’s when Lowe told everyone how he felt.
“He is just a great coach in every way. I was so happy for him to get the 200th win,’’’ said two-way lineman Patrick Forrestal. “He told us he loved us, and we love him.’’
Forrestal made one of the plays of the game on defense when — at 6-foot-4 and more than 300 pounds — he went leaping and made a one-on-one tackle in the backfield on a screen pass.
It was that kind of night for Deerfield, which beat a tough and talented Sherwood team with one big play after another. McClain gained his 186 yards on just nine carries and scored on runs of 37, 63 and 15 yards. His best run of the night — a head-spinning, 50-yard TD during which broke three tackles and zipped from one side of the field to the other — was called back because of a penalty.
Matthew Fox had a 52-yard TD run to start the scoring and scored in the third on a brilliant, spinning, gutsy 26-yard TD run in which it appeared he would be tackled about three times before he went diving into the end zone. KE’Marvin Pitts scored DWS’ other TD — a quick-hit, 15-yard run with 45 seconds left in the half that gave the Knights a 28-6 lead.
Sherwood (2-3) was ready for the upset and made big plays early, including a 76-yard catch-and-run pass from Dalton Todd to T.J. Clay that closed the gap to 7-6 with 2:36 left in the first quarter. But DWS just kept coming, hitting SCA with big plays, and the Eagles didn’t score again until Clay kicked a 32-yard field goal to close to 35-9 with 6:32 left in the third.
Still, Sherwood looked more and more like a Class AA playoff team. After all, the Eagles were playing the No. 1-ranked Class AAA team in GISA.
“We can take a lot from this game,’’ Sherwood coach Otis Covington said. “We were able to compete at a high level, but we have to do better. Like I said (before the game), we had to play a perfect game to beat them, and having 11 penalties didn’t help us. We had some good plays, but we have to polish up and do the little things right. That’s where we have to go from here to get ready for our region.’’
Covington couldn’t leave the field without a word about Lowe.
“Getting 200 wins, that’s impressive,’’ he said. “It says a lot about him as a coach and as a man.’’
That was the feeling as everyone left the field on Lowe’s milestone night.
“He just gives us everything,’’ McClain said. “He’s just a great coach and a great mentor — on and off the field. We’re all so happy he got the 200th win.’’