Bower named R-H Player of the Week

Wyoming East's Caleb Bower (22) runs past Independence's Casey Jones (75) and Cody Fleenor (20) for a long rushing touchdown on the first play of their football game Nov. 2 in Coal City. (Chris Jackson/The Register-Herald)

Heading into week nine of the high school football season two weeks back, Wyoming East was looking to snap a two-game losing streak and keep its playoff hopes alive.

The majority of that night, Wyoming East head coach handed the ball to his workhorse running back, Caleb Bower. Bower delivered in a big way against PikeView, rushing for 268 yards and four touchdowns in a 49-13 win

For that performance, Bower was named Register-Herald Football Player of the Week.

This past Friday night, Bower was at again in a de facto playoff elimination game between the co-No. 14 rated Warriors and Independence at George C. Covey Field in Coal City.

Going head-to-head with one of the state’s best running backs, Atticus Goodson, and a stingy Patriots defense, Bower took his game to a new level.

When the final horn sounded, Wyoming East was on the better side of a 42-28 decision and Bower had rushed for 388 yards and four touchdowns, setting a new single-game rushing record at East in the process.

“He showed up Friday with determination in his eyes,” Wyoming East head Larry Thompson said. “From start to finish he ran with a purpose. That is the best way to explain it. The first play from scrimmage he took it 80 yards for six, breaking three or four tackles along the way.”

As a result of his record breaking performance, Bower has been named the Register-Herald Football Player of the Week for the second week in a row as chosen by the R-H sports staff. He is the first repeat winner of the 2019 season.

“In big games when your back is against the wall, you expect big-time players to show up and Caleb has really turned it on the last couple of weeks,” Thompson said.

The last two weeks alone, Bower has rushed for over 656 yards and scored eight touchdowns.

Bower was one of finalists that included Goodson, Hunter Claypool (Meadow Bridge), Marion Lawson (Greenbrier East), Noah Brown (Greenbrier West) and Drew Clark (Shady Spring).

Goodson won the overall fan poll with 30 percent of the votes.

Any highly successful night for a running back starts up front and Thompson lauded the big guys that paved the way for Bower’s record setting performance.

“Not only Caleb, but kudos to the offensive line. They sorta paved the way for him,” Thompson said. “In the open field Caleb did what he does best, breaking tackles and springing them. However, on the first and second level, the offensive line opened some great holes for him. They executed well and knew exactly who they needed to block on each play.”

Friday night turned out to be exactly what most fans expected with Bower and Goodson going back-and-forth in a shootout. Goodson finished the night with over 250 yards rushing and also scored three touchdowns, breaking Indy’s single-season rushing record.

Thompson felt his star running back had a point to prove.

“I would never take anything away from Atticus, he is a great back, a stud actually,” Thompson said. “I think Caleb may have got tired of hearing about Atticus and wanted to put his name back in the limelight. That is what he did Friday night.”

Bower is just one of the many stars on a Wyoming East team laced with weapons.

Quarterback Seth Ross is on the verge of setting the school passing record Friday night against Liberty. Clay Lester has been a beast on defense recording double-digit tackles week after week. McQuade Canada has five interceptions this season playing his first year of football. Wideouts Caleb Lookabill and Jake Bishop have combined for nearly 1,000 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns.

“These kids play team football. I am glad they bought into what I was preaching early and they have really showed up,” Thompson said. “I know we took two big losses to Man and Shady Spring, but the kids showed up to play in those games as well. We have a complete team with kids that impress me every day and on Fridays they have really played well.”

This week, Wyoming East closes out the regular season at home against Liberty. A win locks up a playoff spot and Thompson again plans to rely heavily on his offensive weapons.

“Every week going forward is a big week and obviously after this week is the playoffs,” Thompson said. “It is crunch time and coaches give the ball to their better players when it is crunch time. Not only Caleb, but Seth as well. He is less than 100 yards away from setting the school passing record. That is a goal he set for himself at the beginning of the year. I am going to do everything in my power to reach that record.”

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