Sometimes reality bites.
John Bowers knows it, although for a while there he was wondering when he’d experience it, what with a 28-game winning streak and a pair of consecutive state football championships won by his Morgantown High Mohigans.
Ah, but all good things — even sports dynasties — come to an end, and this year it did for the young, inexperienced Mohigans, who have opened the season with losses to Martinsburg and Brooke.
So now what do you do, John Bowers, with West Fairmont next on your schedule?
“We try to beat Fairmont West; that’s what we do. We’re zero-and-zero as far as we’re concerned,” he said. “We have goals when we enter the season and they’re still all attainable. We still want to win the conference. Well, we’re zero-and-zero in conference play.
“We still want to make the playoffs. We have eight games to play. We can get a lot of playoff points in eight games. That goal is still intact. We want to practice on Thanksgiving Day. A lot of the goals we have are still out there.”
And, the way Bowers sees it, Morgantown has a chance to improve rapidly as the season goes on. Certainly there was much improvement between the pounding his team took in losing to Martinsburg and the tough 28-24 defeat it took at Brooke in a game that meant more to the coach than maybe any of the players.
“I wanted to win that game more than any game I’ve ever coached, more than even the state championship game against Nitro, more than when we played Martinsburg in the state championship,” Bowers admitted. “That game meant more to me personally than any game I ever coached.”
There were a number of side issues working for Bowers. He had attended Brooke, had played there. This year he was elected to the school’s athletic hall of fame.
What’s more, there were more than 50 friends and family in attendance.
“I wanted to win, but it didn’t work out that way,” Bowers said.
So it’s on to West Fairmont.
“We are focused on being zero-and-zero and on Fairmont West,” Bowers said. “It isn’t going to be easy. Jerry Kelly is without a doubt the best back in the conference. If he’s not one of the top two or three in the state, then I haven’t seen the others. He is as good or better than the Lindamood kid in Parkersburg.
“He does everything. He’s catching the ball now. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was punting. The Victorio kid is good, more elusive, but Kelly will just run you over and try to kill you in the process.”
A year ago Kelly missed the game against Morgantown with a shoulder injury, but Kyle Allard turned in a spectacular performance. Allard is gone but Bowers has nothing but praise for his replacement, Logan Moore, who has led the team to 13 touchdowns in two games, completing 20 of 39 passes for 414 yards and six touchdowns.
“He’s only a sophomore, but he’s heady, he’s tough. They’ve got good receivers and then they give the ball to that moose. There’s not much you can do about that. You have to get Jerry Kelly stopped before he gets started,” Bowers said.
“They are so well coached,” Bowers continued. “Coach Abbott and Coach Mainella do such a great job with that offense. They spread you out — Brooke spreads you out to run it — well, they spread you out to run it and throw it.”
That being said, there is much positive that Bowers took out of the loss at Brooke.
“We were able to run the ball,” he said. “We were able to be a little more physical. We blocked well. The Victorio kid had 50 yards, so we tackled well. We had some assignment errors, had some plays get blown up in the backfield, but overall I think the kids played pretty well.
“We’re young. We’re brand new. At this point last year, our quarterback Charlie Russell had 38 games under his belt. My quarterback this year, Benny Miller, has two.”
And that is the reality of the situation and as noted, reality sometimes bites.
Bowers gave a moment’s thought to that, to where he and his team are and where they once were.
“Max Anderson won 29 straight games,” he said of his former fullback now at WVU. “That’s not real life. Real life is getting a flat tire. Real life is having your dog die. That’s what’s happened to us. We’ve had a flat tire and our dog has died.”
E-mail Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sometimes reality bites.