Gordon Powers says he’s never really cared about the numbers of being a football coach, just the young men he’s helped develop over nearly four decades on the sidelines.
But there are some standout numbers in the story of his time as the head coach of the Model Blue Devils. And that story is coming to an end. Powers officially announced his retirement from coaching during a press conference Thursday in the Model High School media center while joined by family and school administrators.
He bows out after compiling an all-time record of 173-121-4 in 26 seasons as a head coach.
“I am at the age, I’ve put the years in, and I plan on enjoying retirement,” Powers said. “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished and what we’ve done, and I wish the best for everybody in the future.”
In all, Powers has been a coach in different capacities for 38 years, 36 of those at the high school level.
“I love this job. I love coaching football,” Powers said. “I love working with young men. I love seeing young men build character. I’m proud of all the young men I’ve coached over the last 36 years.”
Throughout his 12 years at the helm of the Blue Devils, Powers amassed a 60-67 record and took six teams to the state playoffs, a school record that includes five seasons in a row from 2012-16.
The team’s 38 wins during that span is third-best all time in a five-year stretch at Model. Powers is tied with N.S. Woodard for second most wins for a head football coach at Model.
“Am I done totally with coaching? Would I maybe like to do something else outside of coaching? I don’t know right now. But I don’t think that door is ever going to be shut completely,” Powers said. “I’ve never tried anything else but coaching. So we’ll see. Right now I’m going to get some rest and reminisce.”
After coaching at Westfield School in Perry and Owensboro High School in Kentucky, Powers came to Model in 2003 with his wife, Debbie Powers, and his family. He stepped aside as head coach of the Blue Devils in 2008 and stayed on as an assistant, but returned to the helm in 2012.
Model went 1-9 this season, ending the streak of five consecutive winning seasons and playoff appearances. The Blue Devils’ final game at Rockmart was Powers’ 400th as a football coach at any level.
“I don’t know, I guess that tells you it’s time to retire when you just hit that 4-0-0,” Powers said. “I put a lot into this season and I made my mind up that I was going to do that. And that was going to help me make my decision too.”
Powers said he appreciated all of his assistant coaches, most of whom have been with him for several years, and the players who have played for him.
He said he spoke to the current Model players Thursday morning and discussed his decision with them.
“I told them there’s a time to step off, and it’s never going to be good,” he said. “We’ve got some good young kids coming back. We were very young this year, and it was a tough year. But on the positive side, we’ve got 95 percent of them coming back.”
Powers said he will remain at Model as a teacher through the end of the school year and will help in the transition to a new football coach when one is hired.
He said he doesn’t have any specific plans for retirement but is looking forward to spending more time with his wife, their children and grandchildren.