Life has come full circle for longtime football coach David Dowd, now an assistant coach at West Ashley High School.
High School Football Schedule
All games at 7:30 p.m.
Cane Bay at Fort Dorchester
Goose Creek at Ridge View
Colleton County at James Island
Sumter at Stratford
Hilton Head at West Ashley
Wando at Ashley Ridge
Berkeley at Summerville
Cane Bay at Fort Dorchester
Bishop England at Hanahan
North Charleston at Stall
Timberland at Cross
Academic Magnet at Military Magnet
Allendale-Fairfax at Garrett Tech
Lake Marion at Woodland
St. John's at Whale Branch
Palmetto Christian at Lincoln
at Pinewood Prep
at Christian Academy
Wardlaw at Charleston Coll.
Northwood at Hilton Head Prep (5 p.m.)
Holly Hill Academy
Greenwood Christian at
St. John's Christian
Henry Academy at James Island Christian
Cathedral at Coastal Christian
Faith Christian at
Back in 1991, Dowd was hired as the first head football coach at Charleston Southern University and spent the next decade laying the groundwork for the rising program.
Dowd's last season at CSU was 2002, just as the team was starting to take shape in the newly formed Big South Conference. Three years later, Charleston Southern won its only Big South Conference title and last season the Buccaneers set a school record with 10 victories.
Wins were hard to come by during Dowd's tenure; he left with just 34. But far more important to him was the foundation laid by his players. And, the impact he had on his players.
"I think we have about 30 former players coaching just in the Charleston area and maybe 70 or so around the state," said Dowd. "It's a great feeling to see so many young men making a positive impact in their communities.
"Those kids, in those first 10 years or so, they paid the price. They loved football. Some of them could have played at other schools but chose to be a part of something at CSU. Now, they can go back and see how far the program has come."
Since leaving Charleston Southern, Dowd has spent most of the last 11 years coaching on the high school level. He worked for eight years as a teacher and coach at Sumter High School.
This summer, his wife Sarah took a job in the financial aid department at Trident Tech. Dowd, now 60 years old, hoped that he could continue teaching and coaching. As fate would have it, West Ashley head football coach Bobby Marion was looking for a quarterbacks coach.
"You're talking about a guy with 32 years of experience working with quarterbacks, heck yeah I wanted him," Marion said. "He was a huge hire for us. He's been around football all of his life, and his knowledge and experience is something I could not pass up. I was very lucky to get him, and his impact on our program has already been very positive."
Several years ago, Dowd considered getting back into college coaching at Brevard College, but chose to stay involved with high school athletics. He not only enjoys his role as a coach, but also as a teacher in the classroom. Dowd teaches a leadership class to freshmen at West Ashley.
"It didn't take me long to realize that I could make more of an impact as a high school coach," Dowd said. "I feel like I can really impact them and help them grow at a time where I can really make a difference. We lose so many kids from middle school to high school, and the freshman year is so important for these kids. A lot of them make decisions on which fork in the road they are going to take in life. I can help in that area.
"High school coaches don't get enough credit for the work they do. There are a lot of successful people in communities all over this state that will tell you the foundation for their future successes came from playing high school athletics. Their coaches were instrumental in shaping them and I want to be a part of that."
In recent years, Dowd has had knee and hip replacements as well as back surgery. He cannot run around the practice fields at the same speed he once could. But body pain has never dampened his love and desire to coach.
Dowd takes a measure of personal satisfaction in seeing the football program at Charleston Southern do well. He plans to be in attendance on Saturday when the Bucs host Newberry College under the lights. Newberry's head coach, Todd Knight, was the defensive coordinator at CSU under Dowd for the last few seasons of his tenure.
Speaking of lights, Dowd admits he never thought night games on campus would be a reality, but he is happy the school made the decision.
"Oh gosh, it gets so hot in that stadium," Dowd said, laughing. "I remember our first home game ever, back in 1991. We were playing Mars Hill and the heat index was 108.
"Mars Hill players were dropping like flies and I think three trainers passed out from running on the field so often to help the players. Lights are going to make it a much more comfortable setting for the players and the fans."