Flowe, Maloof cherish senior year with sons

Cecil Flowe doesn't want to think about the end of the season right now.

The head coach for Parkview enters Game 2 Friday when his team hosts Norcross.

It's early in the season, but the number of times his son Patrick, who is a senior, will wear the Parkview football uniform is limited.

"As I look at the pictures of him, you get choked up that this is it. He's gone after this year," Cecil Flowe said. "He's been on the field since he was 2 in some capacity. This year needs to be a year that I really enjoy watching him play."

If anyone can relate to Flowe, it's the head coach on the opposing sideline this week. Norcross' Keith Maloof is filled with similar emotions, again.

It was just four years ago that he watched his oldest son Tyler's last football season. He will do it again this year with his youngest son Tanner, who is now a senior.

"Right now it's just about winning games on Friday nights and we'll enjoy the emotional side of it later on in life hopefully," Keith Maloof said. "It's going to catch me later on that this is it."

Cecil Flowe and Keith Maloof are the two longest active head coaches in the county and their sons have been around plenty of football games.

Patrick began going to games when he was 2 years old when his mother Penny would hold him in the stands. It wasn't long before Patrick was the team's ball boy on Friday nights and his father was helping him become a better football player on the weekends.

"Growing up it was something I had to get used to. He was always on the field through little league and coming through middle school and high school," Patrick said. "As I've grown up, I've understood that he's just here to help me. He's another coach trying to teach me stuff so I can succeed."

Tanner has been around the Norcross program since 1999 when his father took over as head coach. He served as the team's ball boy growing up, but once he hit high school he knew he had to take a more professional role with his father.

"You kind of just knew you don't need to yell dad across the field to him," Tanner said.

Patrick and Tanner have had to deal with the same scrutiny.

When the duo first broke into the starting lineup last year, many people thought they were playing just because they were the coach's son.

"When you're on the field, he's a football player. He has the same responsibilities to do stuff right and improve like any other player," Cecil said. "That's how we've always done things.

"He understands he has to do it right because of the adages out there that people assume that he's playing because he's daddy's son. That has never been the case."

The two have worked hard to prove they are not on the field just because they share the same last name as the head coach.

Patrick posted 68 tackles and 5 sacks as a linebacker to help the Panthers to the state playoffs last year. He made 10 tackles in last week's game against No. 6 Stephenson.

"It hurts a little bit when people come up to you and say you're playing because you're the coach's son," Patrick said. "You kind of take that to heart and you just work harder to try and get every edge you can to prove you are a good player."

Tanner made 28 tackles last year at linebacker and has emerged as a two-way player at fullback as well this year. He scored two touchdowns in the Blue Devils' season-opening win over Dacula.

"I think being a coach's kid, you're going to catch grief no matter what," Keith said. "There's always going to be people saying he's playing because he's the coach's son. We just do the best we can and as a coach we put the best on the field. If he's one of the best ones he'll play, if he's not he won't. That was just the way I was brought up."

Patrick and Tanner do receive some extra benefits by being the coach's son. They get a little more coaching than they would probably like at times. Cecil will spend time watching extra film with Patrick at home. Keith will talk to Tanner about alignments or leadership duties on their 45-minute drive home to Winder.

"We're not really father-son on the field," Tanner said. "He talks to me afterwards and tells me what I have to do. It's not like what every regular football player gets after practice."

There's also more responsibility with being the coach's son. Both Cecil and Keith have preached leadership to their sons since an early age. The duo have responded by being elected team captains and members of the leadership council.

"I feel like I have an obligation to lead the team. People are looking up to me," Patrick said.

It's that father-son bond that Cecil and Keith want to cherish for as long as they can this season. Their teams are only guaranteed 10 football games. Only Patrick and Tanner can help control whether they extend the season for their dads.

"It's special that it's his senior year. I watched him walk on the field and I got a little emotional that this was the beginning of the end of his high school football career," Cecil said. "Several people have shared with me that you need to enjoy this year. This is his senior year and you need to be there with him as his dad, not just coaching him, but be there with him as his dad because it's a special time."