LITTLETON — It was a high school football coach’s dream that longtime Columbine football coach Andy Lowry experienced this month.

Lowry — 6-time state champion guiding the Rebels to titles in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2011 and 2023 — was named this year’s AFC recipient of the NFL’s 2023 Don Shula High School Coach of the Year award.

“I have to give so much of the acknowledgment and praise to all my coaches. We have been together for so long,” Lowry said of his staff. “Even some of my lower-level guys have been with me for 15 years. It’s just a testament to how well they do.”

With the award came trips to the Pro Bowl in Orlando, followed up by experiencing the Super Bowl in Las Vegas the following week.

“It was a great experience with a lot of great people,” Lowry said of the experience that included learning more about NFL projects with community development not only in the United States, but internationally.

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Lowry was joined with the NFC recipient — Shane Fairfield from Muskegon High School in Michigan — on both the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl trips. During the first and second quarters of the Pro Bowl flag football game Lowry and Fairfield were interviewed by ESPN’s Michelle Beisner-Buck on the sidelines.

Longtime assistant Tom Tonelli and Lowry left for Las Vegas on Wednesday. Tonelli and Lowry experience media day and NFL Honors awards show.

Bobby Mestas — Director of Youth and High School Football Development for the Denver Broncos — has played a huge role in not only promoting high school football in Colorado, but also the boom of girls flag football. Chatfield and Arvada West girls flag football teams captured the first two state championships the last two years which the Broncos helped fund and organize.

“The hospitality that everyone showed was amazing,” Lowry said. “Bobby Mestas and the Broncos were incredible. The NFL people treated us like we were kings.”

Lowry was able to meet Rob Walton, who took over ownership of the Denver Broncos in August of 2022.

The Broncos and NFL provided a pair of Super Bowl tickets each, Lowry and Tonelli were joined by Columbine athletic director Derek Holliday and Lowry’s son Thomas Lowry for the Super Bowl.

“I’m not sure a teacher can afford any of the Super Bowl tickets,” Lowry said with a laugh as he sat in his office before his 8 a.m. class began Tuesday morning.

With San Francisco having so many connection to Colorado and the Denver Broncos it might have been easy for Lowry’s contingent to be rooting on the 49ers against Kansas City. However, memories of facing Christian McCaffrey a decade ago did resurface for Lowry.

“There might have been some post traumatic stress syndrome coming back,” Lowry said of seeing the San Francisco running back on the field for the Super Bowl.

Lowry’s Rebels only faced McCaffrey once, but it was a memorial performance. McCaffrey had 309 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns in Valor Christian’s 49-13 Class 5A state quarterfinal victory in 2013.

“He was pretty amazing,” Lowry said. “I felt pretty horrible until he started doing that against USC, UCLA and the rest of college football. We weren’t the only one.”

Lowry, a Lakewood High School graduate, will head into his 31st season next year.

“As the head guy you get a lot of the problems through the year, but you also get the acknowledgement at the end the year,” Lowry said who also picked up his 300th career victory last Fall. “I couldn’t do anything without any of those guys. That is why we have been so successful through all these years. We have great kids who believe in us and believe in what we are doing, It has been a blessing. I’m so grateful. I say prayers and thank God every morning being a teacher and a coach. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”