High school football: Lowe plans to set bar high as new coach at Carson

Published 12:01 am Sunday, February 6, 2022

By Mike London

CHINA GROVE — As a high school senior at East Rowan, Jonathan Lowe filled out one of those famed “Meet the Players” forms for the Salisbury Post.

Favorite Movie: Remember the Titans.

Favorite TV show: Friday Night Lights.

Lowe also competed in basketball and track and field for the Mustangs, but he clearly was a football-crazy kid.

“Nothing on my list of favorites has changed,” Lowe said with a laugh.

That form was filled out 10 years ago. Lowe is now a football-crazy adult, a student of X’s and O’s, as well as a student of character-building.

He’s a college graduate (Liberty University), a smart guy (a kinesiology major) and a clean-living role model who met his future wife at church.  He’s a responsible, committed Carson P.E. teacher, a husband and father of twins.

Lowe will turn 28 on Feb. 15, the same day that the twins (a boy and a girl) turn 2. When that sort of cosmic stuff happens, maybe you’re living a charmed life. He likes to think so.

Lowe was introduced to the Carson football team as the program’s new commander-in-chief on Friday.

The response was overwhelming. He’s a popular choice among the players, as well as the coaching staff, a group that will include veteran assistants/advisors such as Jason Stanley and former West Davidson head coach Barry Mitchem.

“It got pretty loud in there when (new AD) Josh Trexler introduced me to the team,” Lowe said. “That was gratifying. I’ve gotten a lot of texts from players who can’t wait to get started. We haven’t even had a team meeting yet, but there’s a lot of excitement.”

It’s the dream job for Lowe, who grew up with aspirations of returning home after college and coaching somewhere in that East Rowan/Carson/South Rowan triangle.  Now he’s another Mustang who wears orange, joining a long list of notable East-to-Carson coaches that includes Trexler, Chris Cauble, Brian Perry, Brooke Stouder, Kelan Rogers and Kayela Galloway.

Lowe is taking the reins at a school with a reputation for dedicated students and athletes, but it’s not an easy place to win in football.

Carson is 65-114 all-time in the sport. Part of that record is due to those difficult seasons when the program was just getting off the ground under Mark Woody, but Joe Pinyan, acknowledged by everyone as one of the best in county history, was 28-40 there, so it’s no piece of cake.

Daniel Crosby, whose  move to Mount Pleasant, opened the door for Lowe, knew his stuff and went 9-19 in three seasons.

Needless to say, coaching football goes well beyond the record book. Head football coaches are incredibly impactful people who can positively affect student-athletes for the rest of their lives. You can’t save all of them, but you can certainly help a lot of them get on the right road.

Lowe gets that.

“This is a great opportunity to make an impact in this community,” Lowe said. “It’s been 10 years since I was a high school senior. One of my goals is to still be on that Carson sideline when this year’s seniors come back for their 10th reunion.”

Lowe was a high school quarterback, one of the guys at East who kept things going between Jamey Blalock and Samuel Wyrick. He was on good teams and that went to the playoffs and he was on teams that struggled, so he saw both sides of it. He was a starter and he was a backup, so he saw both sides of that. He had a serious injury (ACL) during his high school career and came back from it, so he’s seen adversity. His high school head coaches were Brian Hinson and Chad Tedder.

Lowe developed a passion for football early on and got started in the game playing in the Rowan YFL.

When he graduated from East and headed to Liberty, in Lynchburg, Va., he had a serious interest in aviation, but the dream to teach and coach won out.

He went to work for the Liberty football team as a student assistant.

“Started out as low as you can possible go,” Lowe said. “Washing josh straps, whatever was needed. Just anything to get involved with the football program.”

He worked his way up and got noticed by head coach Turner Gill, the former Nebraska quarterback. He moved into larger roles, being a part of game day operations, assisting with play calls from the press box, breaking down film, keeping charts.

“All of it was great experience,” Lowe said. “Liberty had a very good program. We played UNC, played West Virginia. I got two conference championship rings.”

The chance to come home materialized in February 2019 when Lowe was hired to teach and coach at Southeast Middle School. He was head football coach at China Grove Middle, before moving over to Carson to become part of the Cougars’ staff in 2021. His wife is still a teacher at China Grove.

Benjamin Crawford, Carson’s principal, was at China Grove before coming to Carson. He’s sold on Lowe. He’s hired him more than once.

While Lowe didn’t arrive at Carson until 2021, with the COVID situation, he was able to be involved with two football seasons in a single calendar year. He’s been a quarterbacks coach and a defensive backs coach.

“Being part of the Carson staff, I already know our players, and that’s a big advantage as opposed to coming in and having to learn a new team,” Lowe said.

Lowe, who is currently coaching jayvee boys basketball, isn’t locked into a single football coaching philosophy

“Kids graduate, kids leave, so you have to adapt to the personnel you have,” Lowe said.

Carson did a fine job offensively after putting in the split-back veer in the fall. Senior quarterback Hunter Burris and senior back Carter Dowd were ideal fits for that system and put up great rushing numbers for a team that was competitive most Fridays.

Teams stacked the box against the Cougars last season, knowing they were only going to throw in desperate situations. Lowe expects to throw more.

“I think with the personnel we have that we’ll be a power running team on offense, but we’ll be a team that can also go from the gun,” Lowe said. “We’ll try to keep it simple and we want to be masters of the simple. But we want to use multiple sets, give opponents several things to prepare for. Defensively, we’ve got really good players returning. Our defensive line will be especially strong.”

Week 2 of the 2022 season will be interesting.

Carson vs. Crosby’s Mount Pleasant team. The two coaches are friends.

Crosby was one of the first to send Lowe congratulations on his promotion.

It’s an exciting time for Lowe and his family. The football-crazy kid has grown up, and he’s ready for the next challenge.