Instead of accepting all the credit for DWS’ amazing season — which ended in a GISA Class AAA state title — Allen Lowe heaped praise on his assistants. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — It was one of those seasons that all but define a career, a landmark year and ride through the playoffs that ended at the apex of the sport — a high school football state championship.
But when Deerfield-Windsor head football coach Allen Lowe, who not only led his Knights to the GISA Class AAA state title but won his 200th game along the way, was told he was named The Herald’s John Reynolds Coach of the Year, he wanted to talk about his assistant coaches.
“It’s a shame you can’t name my two defensive coaches (the) Coach of the Year,’’ said Lowe, referring to Rod Murray and Craig Rhodes.
The trio has been together in some form for a decade, and Lowe regularly praised both Murray and Rhodes during the season.
“We’ve all been doing this so long together. We feel its a group thing. It’s not about one of us,’’ Lowe said. “The way we get along is very special. You couldn’t ask for anything better. We’ve been together for the last 10 years.’’
Lowe wanted to thank just about everyone — his players, coaches and the community — for his memorable season.
“I’m thankful for everyone from the players to everyone on the whole coaching staff, especially Rod Murray and Craig Rhodes,’’ Lowe said. “It’s just one of those things. We’re all one big family.’’
Lowe said Murray and Rhodes are involved in everything.
“They are so instrumental in everything from the offseason conditioning to preparing for Friday nights,’’ Lowe said. “They set an atmosphere that makes it conducive for the kids to work their butts off.’’
Deerfield went unbeaten in Georgia, winning all 13 games, including a march to the state title game, where the Knights beat Heritage, 27-19, and former DWS player and assistant coach Kevin Prisant, who played for Lowe and was also once on Lowe’s coaching staff.
The fact Prisant was a Lowe disciple says even more about Lowe as a coach and mentor in the rare showdown for a state crown between the teacher and the student.
It was the third state title in the last five years and fourth for Lowe since he returned to DWS in 2001. He won his first state title in 2002 and won again in 2008, 2010 and then this season. He played at Deerfield, began his head coaching career there in 1987 and then left after the 1994 season. But he returned after spending six years as the head coach at Calvary Day. His career record is now 208-101-3.
This year’s Deerfield team went 13-1, and the only loss was to state power North Florida Christian in Tallahassee.
Lowe decided to play the private school powerhouse team last year to add a competitive game to the schedule in order to help his kids in the playoffs. After losing to North Florida Christian, 23-14, Deerfield went on a 12-game winning streak that ended with the state title.
“We knew we had a chance to be real good,’’ Lowe said. “We wanted the kids to go out and do everything they could to reach those expectations. They did, and it makes it fun with kids like we have.’’
That’s what stands out to Lowe, the fact his kids embraced the game and were as one as a team, and that they gave so much in a way that lifted everyone.
“This year was a fun year,’’ Lowe said. “The kids made it special. Even when you win, sometimes things aren’t going as well as they could go. These kids reached our expectations just about every week. They enjoyed playing the game. They really enjoyed Friday nights. I think that was pretty evident. It was just a fun season for all of us.’’