Sailors quarterback looks to end season on high note | SteamboatToday.com

Sailors quarterback looks to end season on high note

Sailors senior quarterback Drew Bowers hands off to senior Austin Ban as head coach Shawn Baumgartner looks on at football practice Wednesday, Oct. 31 at Gardner Field. (Photo by Leah Vann)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — There may not be a better memory for the Sailors seniors than last Friday night’s double overtime 54-53 victory over Eagle Valley.

“I told them after the game if there's ever a game you want to remember and come back 10 years from now and tell some stories, it's going to be a double OT game,” Steamboat Springs head coach Shawn Baumgartner said. “And in 10 years, I'd like to sit down and listen to their stories. I don't know if half of them are going to be true or not — the stories they're going to tell about that game are going to be unbelievable.”

Both teams had scored in the first overtime, then Eagle Valley’s kicker missed the extra point in the second overtime to give the Sailors an edge. Junior Lowen Epstein caught the game-tying pass from senior quarterback Drew Bowers, then sophomore Finn Russell punched in the game-winning extra point for the win.

Steamboat football

Aug. 24: at Manual, W 24-12
Aug. 31: at Cedaredge, L 34-26
Sept. 7: at Moffat County, L 21-14
Sept. 14: vs. Middle Park, L 27-20
Sept. 21: vs. Hotchkiss, W 40-7
Oct. 4: at Palisade, L 49-20
Oct. 12: vs. Battle Mountain, L 35-33
Oct. 19: at Summit, L 35-21
Oct. 26: vs. Eagle Valley, W 54-53
Nov. 2: at Glenwood Springs, 7 p.m.

Bowers finished the game completing nine out of 18 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns. Epstein caught eight of those nine passes for 251 yards, including a 75-yard reception.

“I was really nervous in the overtime, honestly. I felt like I was showing calm, but I was pretty nervous,” Bowers said. “But we got it done.”

For Bowers, last Friday night was a game where it finally all clicked. Typically a pocket passer, Bowers adjusted to an option offense his senior year, meaning he was running the ball more than he had in the past.

“I think it's been a tough transition, but it gives me more benefits,” Bowers said. “I can run the ball as well as throw the ball.”

Baumgartner commends Bowers for his growth in the option and his willingness to adapt during his senior year.

“He did a great job Friday night of reading the option and pulling the ball when he needed to,” Baumgartner said. “He did a good job on a sore ankle and made some good decisions in our running game and passing game.”

The sore ankle lingers from the game at Summit High School on Oct. 19. Bowers went down with a sprain in the final quarter, but he’s decided to play through it in his final two games as a Sailor.

He’s hoping that last week wasn’t the peak of the season, because how sweet would it be if the seniors could grab one last win on the road, upsetting Glenwood Springs (4-5, 3-1) this Friday night?

“I think it's really crucial for the seniors this game,” Bowers said. “We're really trying to get this win against a team that's pretty good and knowing it's our last guaranteed game ever. And not knowing if we're going to play in college and move on, I think it's hard on everybody. But it breeds a lot of motivation for this game to get this last victory.”

He doesn’t know if this will be his last game of football ever. He’s hoping to potentially walk on at a program like Colorado School of Mines or Colorado State University. Regardless, the Steamboat Springs program will be something he holds close to his heart, whether it’s winning in double overtime or eating dinner and watching Thursday Night Football with his teammates every week.

There are only four seniors who have stayed in the Steamboat Springs program all four years: Ford Louden, Tyden Baker, Jimmy Thielen and Johnathon “Q” Kaminski. All of them were freshmen in Baumgartner’s first year of assistant coaching and teaching at Steamboat Springs.

Bowers, however, arrived in Steamboat Springs his junior year from West Potomac High School in Alexandria, Virginia, a 6A football program. He’s seen a lot of adversity being in a smaller program, where injuries can be more detrimental to a team with less people.

To him, the emphasis on teamwork and accountability is stronger at Steamboat.

“It's been interesting to see a bigger program and a smaller program,” Bowers said. “And how important it is to be on the same page in a smaller program, especially when you don't have a size advantage and some of the things you have with more kids.”

While the Sailors didn’t have a winning season, both Baumgartner and Bowers agree that it’s been a more competitive season. Losing close games and finally notching a double overtime victory are testament to the future of Sailors football.

“We finally won that close one,” Baumgartner said. “That's part of the learning experience and, hopefully, these seniors take this experience that they've had through their four years or two years or just this season and apply this to their life of not giving up.”

To reach Leah Vann, call 970-871-4253, email lvann@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @LVann_Sports.

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