WGH’s Bowden named Trumbull’s best
By the end of the 2016 high school football regular season, Warren G. Harding quarterback Lynn Bowden had put together quite a season. In fact, it was good enough — 1,824 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns, 879 passing yards and 18 touchdowns, plus nine punt or kickoff returns for touchdowns — for media voters to choose him unanimously for the Trumbull County Coaches Association Player of the Year award.
Then, in three playoff games, Bowden really put on a show.
Through it all, the speedster who used his remarkable elusiveness and even better vision to shred defenses all season, always gave credit to others, including Monday night when he was presented the Player of the Year award at the TCCA’s 42nd annual banquet.
“It means a lot to me, but I really couldn’t do it without my team,” Bowden said. “The numbers I put up there, I couldn’t do it by myself. I want to thank all the players who helped make me better this year.
“It’s all to the credit of my front linemen. They get it done and I do my job.”
Bowden certainly did that in the postseason. In three games against Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Chardon and Hudson, Bowden ran for 732 yards and 11 touchdowns, and passed for 439 yards and four scores as Harding reached the Division II, Region 5 championship game.
“He is confident in his ability, but not arrogant, and I think there’s a fine line,” Harding coach Steve Arnold said. “I think any time he stepped on the field, he thought he, and the team, was going to succeed.
“When he was on the field it was just like we knew we had an opportunity to win. No matter what insurmountable odds there were, we had a shot to come back or win the football game.”
A former county player of the year (2012), De’Veon Smith from Howland, also was honored Monday. Smith was chosen as the Korey Stringer Golden Helmet Award winner, honoring a Trumbull County football player competing in his final year of collegiate eligibility. Smith will complete his career at the University of Michigan when the Wolverines play in a bowl game.
John F. Kennedy coach Jeff Bayuk was voted coach of the year in a vote of his peers, and the TCCA awarded coach of the year plaques to Bayuk, Arnold, Dominic Menendez of Howland, Brian Hoffman of Hubbard and John Armeni of LaBrae. Former Youngstown State assistant coach and Girard head coach Fred Thomas, currently the head coach at Malone University, was the guest speaker.
Bowden was named offensive player of the year in Ohio Division II this week and is expected to be in the running for the Mr. Football honor later this week.
“As a kid, that’s what I shot for, but it’s always team first, not me,” Bowden said.
Arnold talked about the effect Bowden had on his teammates.
“He kept me, as well as his teammates, loose during the course of the season and even on Friday nights, which is important.”
Bowden transferred to Harding from Liberty after his sophomore year of school. He proved himself to his teammates rather quickly.
“It was a transition for him, for me and the staff, and for the players,” Arnold said. “You come in with this kid with a lot of hype. Our kids who had been here were thinking, is he infringing on our territory? And he had to prove himself, coming from Liberty. I don’t care where you’re at, kids have to prove themselves.
“He was able to prove himself rather early. With kids, once you prove yourself, you’re accepted, so once he proved himself, he became a Warren Harding Raider. That didn’t take long for him to do.”
Bowden, who said he will begin working through college possibilities soon, said the playoff game against Chardon was one of his top memories from the Raiders 11-2 season. He ran for 368 yards and six touchdowns and passed for 129 more yards and one score in Harding’s 49-31 victory.
“Going into the locker room, with the whole team waiting there to tell me what I did. I just gave it all to them,” Bowden said.
Though he’s quick to credit others for assisting him, even Bowden can amaze himself.
“Sometimes, I’ll watch on film and say, ‘Wow, did I just do that.'”
A refrain probably spoken often by opposing coaches studying film of the Raiders this past season.