ABOVE: Coach Maurice McGowan
We recently lost one of the All-time greatest High School coaches in Texas High School History. I am talking about none other than Maurice “The Legend” McGowan.
Coach McGowan was a native Houstonian who was raised in Acres Homes. He would proudly tell you that he was from the 4/4. He was a three-sport star athlete at MC Williams High School in football, basketball, and track. One of his proudest accomplishments in high school was leading MC Williams to an upset win over Jack Yates High School. He received an athletic scholarship to play football at Prairie View A&M University, where he played quarterback for Coach Billy Nicks. McGowan graduated from Prairie View with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and a master’s degree in Education.
After Graduating from Prairie View, Coach McGowan began his coaching career in Palestine, Texas. After being there for two years, Coach McGowan was offered an opportunity to come back home to Houston to coach at Jack Yates, alongside another legendary coach named Luther Booker.
Coach McGowan was hired as the Offensive Coordinator and QB coach.
In 1981, Yates made history by being the first all-Black team to make it to the state finals in football, losing in a tight game. Four years later, in 1985, Coach McGowan led the offense to a perfect 16-0 season and a 37-0 win over perennial powerhouse Odessa Permian in the Texas state championship game at Texas Stadium. That 1985 team was the first historically Black high school team in the history of the University Interscholastic League (UIL) to win state in football. That team was the greatest high school team in Texas High School history.
Coach McGowan left Yates in 1987 to become the head coach at Booker T. Washington High School.
McGowan later returned to Yates as the head football coach in 1989, after his mentor, Coach Luther Booker, retired. He led the Lions to three regional finals appearances and a berth in the state finals in 1992, where they lost to Temple. His teams dominated their district for a decade.
Coach McGowan also started and built a dynasty with the girls’ basketball program at Yates in 1979. His teams went to an unprecedented five (5) straight state finals. They won state in 1983, led by former Houston Comets basketball great Monica Lamb. His overall record was 185-18.
Coach McGowan coached 18 players that played in the NFL. Four of those players won a combined six (6) Super Bowls. Reggie Phillips won one with the 1985 Chicago Bears; Elvis Paterson won two (one with the Giants and one with the Cowboys); Dexter Manley won two (both with the Washington Redskins); and Santana Dotson won one with the Green Bay Packers. He also coached Monica Lamb, who won a WNBA championship with the Comets. He coached hundreds of All-City, and All-State athletes, in both girls basketball and football. A lot of his former athletes are doing great things in their communities, and around the world.
George Floyd was also one of Coach McGowan’s former players. Big Floyd’s (as he was called by his teammates), tragic death, left a pain like losing a son to Coach McGowan and all of us that knew him. He was a gentle giant, and his death sparked a new movement with this generation.
Some of Coach McGowan’s accomplishments include being named:
- Touchdown Club Coach of the Year in 1991 and 1993
- Induction into several Halls of Honor
- The Greater Houston Coaches Association Hall of Honor
- The Prairie View Interscholastic League Hall of Honor
- The Jack Yates Hall of Honor
- The Panther Club
Coach McGowan had a cockiness and a swag about him. He would stand at the 50-yard line in pregame warmups with his arms folded and with those bright red coaching pants on, and then he would turn around and stare at the opponents as they warmed up. It intimidated the other team. He knew what he was doing, and his players and coaches fed off his cockiness.
All the great players and coaches have it. Coach McGowan was a master tactician. He knew how to get the best out of his players and coaches. That’s what made him great. He would always say it’s a certain cockiness that comes with being a Jack Yates Lion. Coach McGowan was the epitome of that, with the way he walked and talked.
“It’s just the Jack Yates way baby,” he would often tell the boys.
Thanks Coach Mac, you took us all on a great ride, and I thank you for hiring me to coach alongside you.
You are back with Coach Booker, Coach Mumphrey, Coach Bush, and Coach Wanzer.
As Coach Roy Wayne Johnson would always say: “Nothing But Love!”