Lowery takes Kenai football job in search of community

There are a number of things that jump out when reviewing a list of new Kenai Central head football coach Davis Lowery’s accomplishments.

But to departing Kardinals head coach John Marquez, the thing that jumps out the most normally doesn’t appear on a resume — family guy.

Lowery, who was the defensive coordinator for Kodiak last season, said he turned down an assistant coaching position at a Division I college program, which he wouldn’t identify, to come to Kenai.

The Kardinals obviously don’t have the facilities and athletes of a Division I college program, but Marquez points out that Kenai can offer what a Division I program can’t — time at home with the family instead of on the road recruiting.

“He’s what I thought he was, a family guy,” Marquez said. “That’s what Kenai’s about — family and bringing kids together and community. He knew as lavish as the (college) job would be, he would be away from his family a whole lot.

“He gets to be the head guy in an awesome program in an awesome community. His two daughters get to go to school right in Kenai. He turned down DI because he wants to raise his kids in Kenai.”

Lowery is 43 years old. His wife, Noelle Lowery, and daughters Seneca, 10, and Scarlett, 1, will move to Kenai in July. But he will be dropping in starting the middle of next week to begin the process of becoming head football coach and a special education teacher at Kenai.

Lowery, who was born and mostly raised in Florida, got his first high school football coaching job in 1993. He has 20 years of football experience at the high school and college level in Florida, and also has 12 years of baseball coaching experience.

Lowery also has 12 years as a high school weightlifting coach and three years at the Olympic level.

In 2004, he became more focused on business, and eventually became CEO of a large engineering-environmental firm. As he became more and more successful in business, he traveled increasingly, doing 100 to 130 flights a year.

Eventually, Lowery said he tired of the travel and decided to get mostly out of business and make quality of life a priority.

“We kept coming back to Kenai in our search,” Lowery said.

Marquez said he tried to get Lowery here for this school year, but when that didn’t work out the Lowerys went to Kodiak. Lowery loves the type of student-athlete he has found there.

“I can tell you — in 20 years of coaching, just referencing the kids in Kodiak, I don’t have a total Alaska reference — the kids themselves are one of the most special groups I’ve worked with,” Lowery said. “I’ve worked with high school, college and Olympic athletes.

“That sure says something.”

Kodiak football coach Bill McGuire already is looking forward to the Sept. 10 matchup with the Kardinals in Kenai.

The Bears were 3-5 this season, but sent several players on to college programs for the first time in several years, according to McGuire.

“He’s had a big impact on the kids and it’s all positive,” McGuire said. “That’s really the piece we’re going to miss, then you mix in X’s and O’s, too.”

McGuire said Lowery had 11 days to put in the Kodiak defense for last season, and the head coach was totally happy with the results.

Lowery said wants to continue having a big positive impact on kids in Kenai. He’s excited by the conversations he’s had with Alan Fields, Kenai’s principal, about putting the kids at the top of the pyramid. He also thanked Marquez for his role in landing the Kenai job.

“We shared a vision about academics and growing young people and young men,” Lowery said of his talks with Fields. “Nowadays, that’s kind of cliche.

“But we had a very direct conversation about that, both from a structure standpoint and a vision. It’s not just a feel-good concept, it’s going to be built into the program, with defined gates and goals at each section.”

Lowery wants the program to have academic and athletic benchmarks as early as eighth grade. He wants a strength development program geared toward what’s appropriate for each age group.

But that doesn’t mean the athletes will only play football.

“When you’re a coach at a school with 22 sports and over 4,000 kids, it’s different,” Lowery said. “I actually like the idea of kids playing multiple sports.

“I’m not dedicated to the idea of football and only football. You never know where an athlete will be best, especially with the different paces of development.”

While the fervor over football on the central Kenai Peninsula doesn’t match that at college or some high schools in the South, the programs here have tradition.

Kenai has six state titles, and Northern Lights Conference rival Soldotna has eight.

“One of the things that makes Kenai so attractive is the folks embrace tradition,” Lowery said.

Lowery has already talked to Soldotna coach Galen Brantley Jr. and has immense respect for the way players in the program execute.

But he also respects the way Brantley Jr. and other coaches in the area work together to help the players. He said that is not always the case in high school football programs across the country.

“Yes, we will be rivals that get after each other on that one day of the year,” Lowery said. “But being a close-knit community, we’ll still look after the kids.

“They are the ones at the top of the model.”

Away from football and work, Lowery and his family will look forward to proving Kenai’s reputation as an outdoors paradise.

“We’re a family that loves the water, loves hunting and fishing,” Lowery said. “Certainly, Kenai checks all those checkmarks.”

McGuire said he can speak to Lowery’s fishing abilities, although he warned potential fishing partners of Lowery’s 40-pound-test-snapping penchant for horsing kings as if he were still fishing Key West.

“We’re sad to see him go,” McGuire said. “He’s a heck of a football coach and person in general. We appreciate all he’s done for the program and wish him the best of luck.”

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