The playoffs are nothing new for the Fulton football program. This year is a little more special for head coach Patrick Lower.
This year, the Steamers’ starting quarterback shares the same house and name as head coach – that’s senior #5 Patrick Lower. Patrick was on varsity last season but took over the QB role this year with his dad as head coach.
“It’s fun,” the younger Lower said. “Having a good relationship with the coach is something you always want. Being able to talk about football at school, during school and then at home talking about more football – it’s special. It’s something not a lot of people get the opportunity to do and I’m thankful for that.”
And they’re close. Whether it’s the huge the younger Patrick got on senior night from his father or the concern when he went down on the field with a dislocated shoulder earlier this year, the two definitely share a bond.
Coach Lower thinks it’s been helpful as the Steamers have played to a 7-2 regular season and qualified for the Class 1A playoffs.
“It’s awesome,” Coach Lower said. “We’ve been waiting for this for quite a while.
“It’s a lot of fun and it’s really cool – he’s been around for so long that he kind of knows what I’m thinking and he can finish my sentences, finish the plays, he knows exactly what we need to get to. Having him on the field almost feels like another coach on the field and that’s a comfort level for me.”
The younger Lower has been around the Fulton football program for a large portion of his life. He’s been watching from the sidelines, fetching footballs and going with his dad to Rastrelli’s week-to-week for the KROS River Cities Sports Review to hear Coach talk football on the radio.
Football has been a huge part of his life, so going out for the sport was no surprise.
He’s studied the players and studied the game and it’s helped him come in and run a prolific Fulton offense this season.
“Being on the sideline starting in third or fourth grade, I’ve seen the environments on Friday nights,” Lower said. “The intensity and the energy and how the crowd feeds off the game. It’s a really cool environment I’ve gotten to be around since a little kid. Now being a senior, it’s everything.”
It’s not just the two boys of the family. Lower’s mother and his sister are arguably equally involved in the sport.
“It’s 100 percent a family affair,” Coach Lower said. “We’re Dallas Cowboy die-hard fans, we watch the highlight zone every weekend, we watch college football. We’re always together talking football.
“I say it every year that we’re a football family, and we really are.”
That can be a hard thing to do. Coach Lower goes to school as a teacher during the day and then he runs football practice. Any additional film or interviews take even more time.
That’s a lot of time away from home – but it’s something the Lower family is willing to do for the Fulton football program.
“My wife is a wonderful coach wife,” Coach Lower said. “She understands the hours that it takes. There are frustrations here and there, but everyone in our family understands when it’s football season, it’s football season.”
The family mentality has been important for both Lower men, and it’s something that Coach Lower finds important to implement into his coaching style.
They preach a Fulton-family mentality year in and year out. That goes for all the athletes – not just the one that shares his blood.
“I tell these kids I love them all the time, I hug them all the time,” Coach Lower said. “They understand how we feel about them and they know that when we get on them it’s because we want what’s best for them. We love these guys 100 percent.”
With the playoffs kicking off Saturday, there’s no better place the two would rather end their coach-athlete relationship. It’s an experience not many athletes get to go through and neither Lower is taking it for granted.
And it’s something that the younger of the two is hoping he might get to experience again someday.
“This is something I’ll tell my kids definitely,” Patrick Lower said. “And hopefully the opportunity arises that it’s something they want to get into, too. I would like to get the opportunity to do that.”