Another group of Alabama’s best high school football coaches will be inducted into the AHSAA Hall of Fame on March 18th at the Renaissance Hotel in Montgomery. There will be eleven inductees in all.
The football coaches selected are:
PHIL LAZENBY: A graduate of Bessemer High School (1968) and Samford University (1974), Lazenby, 68, also received a master’s in education from the University of Montevallo in 1979. He played on Samford University’s 1971 National Championship football team and was selected Most Valuable Defensive Player for SU in 1973. He embarked on a long-time career in teaching and coaching, first as an assistant football and head tennis coach at Bessemer’s Jess Lanier High School (1976-1980). He then moved to Mountain Brook where he served as defensive coordinator and assistant principal (1981-90). He became a head coach, first at Guntersville (1991-95), was at Southside-Gadsden for one year in 1996, then moved to Benjamin Russell (1997-2000) and currently is at Bayside Academy (2007-present). He spent 2001-2006 at UMS-Wright as assistant coach and strength & conditioning coach. His overall head-coaching record is 169-89 with two state championship game appearances at Benjamin Russell and one at Bayside Academy. His teams had just two losing seasons in 21 years and have reached the state playoffs 17 times. Lazenby coached as an assistant and head coach in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game, was ASWA Coach of the Year in 1997, 2011 and 2015 and has served as a past president of the Alabama Football Coaches Association. Lazenby was inducted into the Samford Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018. He served in the U.S. Army infantry reaching the rank of First Sergeant with tours in Europe and Central America.
DAVID LOWERY: A native of Butler County, Lowery, 53, graduated from Georgiana High School in 1983, Troy University in 1988 and earned a master’s at AUM in 1998. Hs first teaching/coaching position was at Evergreen High School in 1988. He moved to Elba High School as assistant coach and defensive coordinator from 1989-1998. He also was head baseball coach leading the Tigers to the playoff semifinals in 1993 and 1994. He was head football coach two years (1995-1996). He then moved to Brantley High School where he was head football coach and athletic director from 1999-2013. He had an amazing run compiling a 156-27 overall record and 88-3 region record. His teams won the Class 1A state football title in 2009 and 2012 and finished runner-up in 1999 and 2005. Lowery was named ASWA Class 1A Coach of the Year in 1999 and ALFCA Class 1A Coach of the Year in 2012. Brantley High School named the football field David Lowery Stadium in 2013, and he was inducted into the Wiregrass Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
WILLIE CARL MARTIN: The Alexander City native and outstanding high school football lineman graduated from Laurel High School in 1969. He attended Northeastern Oklahoma on football scholarship. He was selected in the summer of 1969 to participate in the North-South All-Star Game – as one of the first three black participants in the game’s history. After a successful playing career in the Canadian Football League (CFL), Martin, 67, returned to Alexander City and began a teaching and coaching career at Benjamin Russell High School that spanned the next 25 years. He served as an assistant football coach from 1985-2001 directing a defense that allowed only 12.32 points a game over a 15-year period. He served as head football coach from 2001-2006. He compiled a 51-24 record during that span and captured the school’s only state football title in in his first year in 2001. Martin’s leadership expanded to the AHSAA where he served on the District 4 Board and Central Board from 2003-2007. He was hired in 2007 to serve on the University of Alabama football staff as Director of Player Development, a role he kept until 2015 when he retired. In May of that year, Alexander City celebrated Willie Carl Martin Day (on May 12) as the city honored the native son who served as a trailblazer throughout his career.
BILLY ODOM: Odom, 68, graduated from Baker High School in Mobile in 1968 and from Mississippi College in 1972. He served as a teacher and head football coach at Baker High School for 14 seasons (1972-87), moved to Murphy as an assistant coach from 1989-91 and returned to head coaching at Alba High School from 1992-1997. His Alba team won the region title in 1994. Odom’s work as a coach and teacher was just part of his many contributions. He also played a key volunteer role in the development and administration of the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Game in Mobile from its inception in 1988. He has been a key administrative coach for that game ever since – heading into his 33rd year. He has also served as the South team manager for the Senior Bowl College All-Star Game for the last three decades. Recognized as one of Mobile County’s most dependable volunteers, he received the prestigious Bob Pannone Service Award in 2017 and was recognized by the L’Arche Mobile Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012
RONNIE SIKES: A native of Randolph County, Sikes, 59, graduated from Randolph County High School in Wedowee in 1977 and from Auburn University in 1981. He also attended Southern Union Community College and received a master’s degree from Auburn University (1987). The veteran football coach began his career in high school education in 1981 with stints at Valley High School (1981-1984), Notasulga (1984-1988), Mortimer Jordan (1988-1990), and Beulah (1990-1992) before returning to Notasulga in 1992. He served as head football coach for the Blue Devils for 12 years compiling a 91-51 record. He then moved to Lanett from 2004-2009. He has coached and taught at Georgia public schools since 2013. While at Notasulga his teams compiled a 25-game winning streak with his 2001 team capturing Class 1A state runner-up. He rebuilt the Lanett program in a short time becoming the coach to lead the Panthers to the first 12-win season since 1976. Sikes coached in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game twice and also coached in the North-South All-Star Game. He was named O-A News Coach of the Year in 1998.