From Missouri Western walk-on to All-American, Eric McDowell’s next chapter is coming with his first head coaching gig.

The St. Joseph School District announced McDowell, a Savannah alum, as Lafayette’s next head football coach Friday, pending Board of Education approval.

“It’s pretty awesome, a great honor. I’m excited,” McDowell said. “I’ve worked alongside with a lot of other good coaches. I’m looking forward to the task at hand, and hopefully we can make these boys better men and win some games along the way.”

McDowell broke the career sacks record at Missouri Western on his way to becoming an All-American in 2003.

He was inducted into Western’s Hall of Fame in 2016.

McDowell got his start at Mid-Buchanan as an assistant football coach and wrestling coach. From there he worked at Benton as an assistant before joining the staffs of Paul Woolard and Bart Hardy over the past eight years at Lafayette.

Hardy was named Lafayette’s assistant principal on May 8, leaving the opening filled by McDowell.

“I learned a lot of good things. One of the biggest things they taught me was to be patient,” McDowell said. “You’ve gotta love the kids and a lot of organization things, preparing for a week and a game. Just like anything else, you’ve gotta get your feet wet sometime. I learned a lot from those two guys.”

McDowell also teaches physical education at Lafayette. He has a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Missouri Western State University and a master’s in education administration from William Woods University.

Lafayette graduated many of its starters from the 2017 Class 4 District 16 runners up and will usher in a new era under a new head coach.

“These young guys have been in the shadows the last year or two. They’re really chomping at the bit to get their time to shine,” McDowell said. “They want to make Lafayette a good team on the football field on Friday nights, but they also want people to understand that they’re gonna be great young men on Friday nights and in the hallways of Lafayette.”

The Board of Education is expected to approve the position at its next meeting on June 11.

Brandon Zenner can be reached at brandon.zenner@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowZenner.