There was no suspense for Paul Standard Friday night on the way to his 100th career win as the head coach at St. Pius X Catholic High School – his alma mater.
The Golden Lions (4-1) looked every bit like the No. 5 team in Class AAA as they routed Towers 48-6 in George B. Maloof Stadium in the Region 6-AAA opener for both schools.
Seven different SPX players scored, the Golden Lions led 42-0 at halftime, and details like that didn’t matter much to the family and friends of Standard as they posed for pictures after the game.
Standard, who played at SPX under Maloof before graduating in 1980, has spent his entire head coaching career at St. Pius X. His record is 100-35.
He decided to be a coach while he was in college. His path back to SPX was long, but he sure acted Friday night like it has been an abundantly worthwhile journey.
“When I came back I helped coach Maloof in the spring and the summer here. At The Citadel, I also was in charge of intramurals in our company, and that’s when I decided I wanted to teach and coach,” said Standard, whose son – former SPX quarterback P.G. — helps coach when he’s not away in college.
“The funny thing about it was when I got out of the service, Kevin Maloof [George's son] hired me [at Loganville] and that first year I said my goal was to come back to Pius and be the head football coach. I said that in 1985. It took until 2001 for it to happen.”
Standard followed Kevin Maloof as an assistant to Meadowcreek and Dacula before being named head coach at SPX in 2001. Since then, he has guided teams to the state quarterfinals in ‘09 and ‘11 in addition to a semifinal trip in ‘06. The Lions lost 20-17 that year to eventual state champion Northwide-Warner Robins.
After posing for pictures with assistant coaches Bob Gilbert and J.T. Gilbert, who have been with him all 12 years with the Golden Lions, Standard spoke again about his love for St. Pius.
He also pointed out that assistant Chad Garrison was already at SPX at the time of his hiring, and has remained on staff. Former Parkview defensive coordinator Jerry Stewart has been instrumental in the Lions’ success for the past 10 years.
“Without them and the boys, this wouldn’t have happened. I’m just so blessed, and I know people use that term a lot,” Standard said. “It started with a group of young boys who had not had a lot of success, and and they were willing to do anything.
“If I could talk to all the boys and coaches in those 12 years, they all had a part in bringing back the tradition. That was our goal in 2001. I think we’re on our way in 2012. It’s very satisfying to know that we were able to come back and get things right, and it was, ‘We’ — all the coaches and players.”
Six different players scored in the first half for SPX as a huge crowd gathered for homecoming. Senior quarterback Jack Spear, a member of the homecoming court, threw touchdown passes of 10 and 22 yards to tight end J.P Graves and Jack Pelt.
Ryan Braswell, Nick Glass, Branden Mitchell, backup quarterback Joey Connors and Brian O’Reilly scored on runs.
After a late SPX turnover, Towers (0-5) scored on a trick play – the flea flicker – when Daemyon Hassell threw to Kelly Billups to complete a 41-yard play in the final minute.
Towers — 0 0 0 6 – 6
St. Pius X — 21 21 0 6 – 48
SPX – Ryan Braswell 1 run (Thomas O’Leary kick)
SPX – J.P. Graves 10 pass from Jack Spear (O’Leary kick)
SPX – Jack Pelt 22 pass from Spear (O’Leary kick)
SPX – Nick Glass 11 run (O’Leary kick).
SPX – Branden Mitchell 11 run (O’Leary kick)
SPX – Joey Connors 27 run (O’Leary kick)
SPX – Brian O’Reilly 5 run (kick failed)
Towers – Kelly Billups 41 pass from Daemyon Hassell (run failed)