Oct 26, 2012
Clayton High School has been like a second home for Gary Fowler.
Or perhaps Clayton High School has been his home, while his house is his second home.
For more than 30 years, Fowler has paced the sidelines on Friday nights at Clayton. For the last 28 years, he has been the head football coach of the Comets, only the fourth coach in school history.
Fowler took over the Comet football program after Glenn Nixon resigned and put together winning season after winning season. In 1989, his team capped off a perfect, undefeated season with a 2-A state championship.
"Clayton football game me a name," Fowler said. "People though maybe Gary Fowler can do some things."
The Comets hit a rough patch last decade, struggling to string together wins in a tough 4-A conference. But this season, Clayton is 7-3 and in position to finish in second place in the league, which would likely lead to at least a first round home playoff game.
"I wanted to make sure I left this program in good shape because when I got it, it was in good shape," he said. "That meant a lot to me personally."
Fowler was able to coach his son, Drew, who went on to play college football for the Air Force. And Fowler and his wife, Sue, have been very involved in the Clayton community.
"My family basically has grown up here," Fowler said.
Although his retirement is imminent, he still has a few more fights left in him. The Comets will host Knightdale on Friday night in the regular season finale, and the playoffs start next week.
"I want to win, I want to win as much as anybody. You see me out here all crazy on Friday nights," he said. "But I want those guys out there in that circle to know that what we've gone through the last six or seven months, the same thing's going to happen somewhere in life."