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La Porte to hire Lowery

February 11, 2019

The phone rang and Darek Newkirk knew what it meant when he heard La Porte Athletic Director Ed Gilliland’s voice on the other end.

“I wanted to say, ‘No, you can’t take him,’” Newkirk, Paoli’s Athletic Director, said. “But I understood.”

When Rams football coach Jeremy Lowery interviewed for the vacant Slicers football job a while back, Newkirk figured the outcome was inevitable.

“I truly hate that he’s not going to be here,” Newkirk said of Lowery, who will formally be approved as La Porte’s next coach at tonight’s school board meeting. “But I’m happy for him and his family. He’s a great guy.”

Lowery grew up in Texas before his family moved to Indiana prior to his sophomore year of high school, landing in Mishawaka, where he starred as a running back at Penn. The 1991 graduate served on Brian Balsmeyer’s staff at Class 2A Paoli for seven seasons, taking control of the offensive line and serving as offensive coordinator. His family owns several McDonald’s franchises in Bedford, Mitchell, Salem and French Lick, and he left the business when he became head coach in 2017. Lowery compiled a gaudy record of 21-4 that included a sectional title before a 42-35 regional loss to Southridge.

“He’s go, go, go, go, full of energy in everything he does,” said Newkirk, who was on staff with Lowery before becoming A.D. “He was fun to work with. At times, he’s still like a little kid. He’s a positive person who relates well to kids. They want to be around him.”

Paoli runs a flex bone scheme that won’t be much of a departure from what La Porte was running under Dave Sharpe.

“It’s like Navy and Georgia Tech before Paul Johnson,” Newkirk said. “You can be good no matter the talent you have. It gets a lot of kids involved. You may not set individual records, but you’ll set team records. One night, the fullback will go crazy and get 150 yards and the quarterback 20. Another night, the fullback will get 30 and the quarterback 150. It all sets up the passing game. It’s tough to prepare for in a week.”

Lowery was in charge of a program at Paoli that helps prepare high school students for the work force. Because he wasn’t in the classroom, he will be able to move to La Porte in short order.

“He’s coming up pretty soon,” Newkirk said. “He wants to be in the weight room, be around the kids as much as he can. I know he’s going to be successful.”

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