Colbert County High coach Don Creasy, left, on the sidelines with his son Allen (64) during the 1979 season. Both Don and now Allen have faced the Eufaula Tigers in the state finals.
In Dad's footsteps
Athens' Creasy's father coached against Eufaula in 1978 title game
By Brooke Milam
Several people gathered outside Athens High head football coach Allen Creasy's office after his Golden Eagles beat J.O. Johnson 21-18 Friday to advance to the Class5 A state championship game.
It was some of Athens High football's most devoted fans — Creasy's dad, Don Creasy; uncle, Bill Creasy; and Steve Mask, who was one of Creasy's coaches at Colbert County High.
"Hope you can do a little better with Eufaula than I did," said his dad, smiling.
Athens will play for the Class 5A state title Friday at 7 p.m. at Birmingham's Legion Field.
It's Creasy's first shot at coaching a state championship squad, and across the sidelines will be Eufaula — the same team his father faced in his debut as a head coach in the title game.
"It kind of hit me the other night," Don Creasy said. "Playing Eufaula — that was the first finals we played in after I became head coach."
Colbert County lost to Eufaula 29-0 in that 1978 Class 3A contest in Don Creasy's first season as head coach. Allen Creasy was a Colbert County freshman at the time, where he played for his dad and graduated in 1982.
And that's not the only bond between the Coaches Creasy.
Whether it's duck hunting or football, they always have plenty to talk about. And according to the younger Creasy, it's been that way his whole life.
"Everything I know and everything I do, I learned from him," Allen Creasy said.
"Not only in coaching, but in everything I do as a father and as a husband, it's from watching him."
His dad was inducted into the Alabama High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 1998 with a career record of 185-77-2 in 23 years as a head coach.
In his 12 years as head coach at his alma mater, Colbert County, Don Creasy guided 11 of 12 teams to the playoffs with two state championships in 1979 and '85 and runner-up finishes in '78 and '89, his final year at Colbert County. He also coached in two North-South state all-star games and one Alabama-Mississippi all-star game.
After leaving Colbert County in 1989, he coached at Coffee High School for two years and Mountain Brook for four before retiring in 1996.
"And then I came home to Leighton to practice being lazy," he said laughing.
Don Creasy has been transformed from "coach" to "dad and fan." And how many Athens games has he seen in his son's seven years as the Golden Eagles' head coach?
"Well, how many have they played? I know this year I've seen them all, including the preseason game," Don Creasy said. "I don't reckon I've missed but one or two since I retired."
With all his knowledge and experience the older Creasy said he offers his unconditional support, but only talks football coaching with his son when asked.
"I try not to interfere," he said.
"I think that's the way it's supposed to be."
Maybe so, but the younger Creasy is quick to admit that his dad's fingerprints are all over Athens' game plan and that he wouldn't have it any other way.
"There's no question, he's being very humble," Allen Creasy said. "Most of the things we do well are recommendations or suggestions I get from my dad. He has a great eye for the game — better than anyone I've ever been around. We don't always agree, but it usually turns out like most father/son situations do — he's usually right."
Don Creasy confesses that he sees a lot of himself in his son's coaching demeanor and anyone who has seen both Creasys work would agree.
"I'm afraid so," Don Creasy said laughing. "He's very intense and that's a lot like the way I coached."
Both are known for being fiery from the opening kickoff.
Allen Creasy takes the comparison as a compliment, saying his dad "was very successful doing it that way."
"I've been on the sidelines since before I was big enough to be on the sidelines," Allen Creasy said.
"I'm a little more animated than most coaches, but that's because I grew up that way. There hasn't been a Friday night in the fall my whole life that I've not been at a football game."
The best advice Don Creasy said he could offer to his son this week would be not to get caught up in the hype that surrounds state championship games.
"You just have to play it like another game," he said.
Dad Creasy added that he doesn't like to make predictions, but he knows the mood that needs to be in the Athens locker room this week before they make the trip to Birmingham.
"Everybody can always hope to win, but you have to go expecting to win," he said.
"If you go with the intentions of winning, that's when you have a real shot."
Athens is getting a shot at the championship for the first time since 1976 when the Golden Eagles finished co-champions with Andalusia.
This year's seniors have been a part of squads that made the state semifinals when the group was sophomores and quarterfinals as juniors. But Don Creasy said that while it's made for fun times, the Golden Eagles' success hasn't had much to do with his support of his son's career.
"Oh sure, I'm proud," Don Creasy said. "I've been proud of him the whole time. Even the years they haven't won a lot of games, they've played well."
And championship or no championship for the Golden Eagles, the veteran coach and dad said that will never change: "Whatever happens, happens. I'll be proud of them either way."
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