LUDOWICI, GA -- If you watch high school football in Ludowici on Friday nights, you may notice a player in a No. 2 jersey that is wearing different hats for the Long County Blue Tide.
The guy you are seeing is senior ATH Dwayne Rowe.
Rowe is ubiquitous on the field, lining up at many positions for his team on gameday.
The 17-year-old is one of five children and moved to Georgia from Gadsden, Alabama in his youth when his father got stationed at Fort Stewart.
“We were staying on base, and I was going to school in the Liberty County School System then we found a house in Ludowici and I came to Long County in the second grade,” Rowe said about his upbringing. “Ever since then, it’s been home.”
The 6-foot, 180 lb. athlete is emblematic for what Blue Tide football stands for with his willingness to play wherever the team needs him to be.
He is confident in his ability anywhere on the gridiron, knowing he will come up big for his team.
“Wherever I play, I’m going to play at my best,” the Blue Tide player said. “I play punter, kicker, kick returner, punt returner, safety, cornerback, receiver, quarterback, running back, and linebacker. There isn’t really a position that I can’t play besides on the line, so I let the big boys handle that. I can play anywhere. Anywhere you put I’m going to perform.”
Rowe likes playing receiver, but he enjoys the defensive side more.
He scored three touchdowns in the game that the Blue Tide ended their 18-game losing streak when he returned a punt for a score and intercepted Bacon County’s quarterback for a 70-yard pick six.
That would be Rowe’s first game of his senior year, missing the opener at Berrien due to COVID protocols.
But he is not satisfied after getting one win under his belt on the year.
Rowe has bigger plans.
“It felt good but like I told my teammates, I was always told that you have a 24-hour rule,” he said. “After those 24 hours, it doesn’t matter what happened. It’s over with. I put it behind me because you can’t be satisfied with one win after an 18-game losing streak. My goal is to go to the playoffs this year for the first time in Long County history and win a few more games to secure us a spot.”
To prepare for the Friday night lights, Rowe watches a lot of film from all three phases of the game and study the opponent and personal matchup for the contest.
“When I don’t have any classwork and just sitting around, I go on Hudl to watch a few defensive and offensive plays and look at special teams,” he said about his pregame preparation. “After that, I go back deeper into just that last season and their record and plays. Watching film in high school is really a cheat code. Once you study somebody for a few days, its easy to know what they’re going to do and their weakness.”
On his game day music playlist, Rowe has a lot of Grammy-nominated artist, Lil Baby in his headphones.
He also likes to watch motivational videos and football highlights to get him mentally prepared to suit up.
“I got to go with Lil Baby. That’s the GOAT,” Rowe said about his music taste. “I listen to him everywhere I’m going. If you see me driving and Lil Baby not playing, then something must be wrong with me. If we in the weight room or eating our pregame meal, I go on YouTube and watch a few highlight videos or some inspirational speeches to get locked in. Once its about 5:30, I’m locked in and not worried about nothing else but the game. Nobody is texting me or none of that. I’m locked in.”
Going into his senior year, Rowe picked up his first athletic scholarship offer from Middle Tennessee State University in late April.
“As of right now, that’s my only one but I got a lot of interest,” he said. “Hopefully by the end of the season I can pick up whoever’s interested in me. I got Duke, Kentucky, Kennesaw State, Georgia State, and a few other schools but I’m going to go out and do the best I can and hope for the best at the end of the season.”
He is young but he is observant, paying attention to college recruiters needs and expectations when they meet with him and his family.
“I listen to what they look for in a safety or whatever position they’re recruiting me for,” Rowe said about the recruitment process. “I ask them what they’re looking for and then I show them that I can do it. If they show me love, I’m going to show love back.”
Whatever school Rowe decides to attend next fall, he wants to major in criminal justice.
“The dream of course is to make it somewhere in sports, but I always wanted to be a police officer or something with law enforcement,” he said about future plans. “And then I just told my dad the other day that after college I want to do something with teaching to be a defensive assistant for a college or a high school coach because I got a lot of energy and I’ll have whoever I’m coaching pumped up. It’ll never be a dull moment.”
Rowe is a three-sport athlete, also competing in varsity basketball and baseball.
Just like football, he plays everywhere on the hardwood and specializes on the defensive side.
“I just got into basketball my freshman year,” Rowe said. “I was in the gym playing pickup and I dunked the ball. The coach said, ‘you got to come play.’ I was worried about getting cut but he said I was athletic and needed me on the team. Ever since then, I’ve been playing. I play everywhere. I be down there with the centers and with the guards. I’m really a defensive player in basketball. I’ve gotten defensive player of the year every year that I’ve played. I like that sport.”
On the baseball diamond, Rowe was a member of the Blue Tide’s elite eight squad a season ago, playing in the outfield.
But he may take the pitcher’s mound this season.
“I play anywhere in the outfield,” Rowe said. “This year, coach said he was going to let me pitch. This will be my first year pitching. I’m going to try to do something, but I can’t go too long on the mound because I’ll get tired. But we’re going to try to repeat and go further than what we did. We should’ve went to the championship but things happen.”
First-year head coach Mike Pfiester knows that Rowe is a leader and felt that it was telling in their 34-6 loss against Berrien in their season opener before he returned against Bacon.
“Dwayne has grown a lot in the past two months since we got going with football,” Pfiester said. “When I got here, he was busy leading the baseball team to the quarterfinals. He was in virtual school last year, so I didn’t see him very much until summertime. We saw his growth a lot against Berrien because he wasn’t there. He was quarantined. So, our defense was nowhere near as good without him. Then he came back against Bacon, and we saw the difference when he scored a touchdown on a punt return and returned and interception for a touchdown. He’s the emotional leader. Even if it doesn’t show up in stats, he’s always the one back there getting them right.”
Rowe is an Alabama Crimson Tide fan, being a native of the state but does not watch many sports.
“I play sports, but I don’t watch a lot of sports,” he said. “I just watch Alabama since that’s my favorite team and where I’m from. My favorite player for football is Justin Jefferson. In basketball, it’s LeBron, KD, Ja Morant, and James Harden since he’s in 4PF with Lil Baby. And for baseball I like Yasiel Puig, Mike Trout, and Aaron Judge. The big-time players.”
When he is not being an athlete, Rowe enjoys hanging out with loved ones, eating, and swimming.
“I spend time with my family and friends,” he said. “I hang out with my friends a lot. We eat a lot. I like to swim. Whatever my friends want to do, we just go and do it.”