By John Kovach
Stan Watson, Aunre’ Davis and Cameron Truss will be on the sidelines for bowl.
Three former Youngstown-area football players will try to help the Bowling Green State University football team defeat the University of Idaho in the upcoming Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl.
But none of them actually will be on the playing field for the game that will start at 4:30 p.m. in Boise, Idaho, and televised nationally on ESPN.
One of them, Stan Watson (Austintown Fitch), will be coaching the Falcons’ cornerbacks, while freshman defensive backs Aunre’ Davis (Warren Harding) and Cameron Truss (LaBrae), both redshirted this year, will be on the sidelines providing moral support for their teammates.
Watson, a graduate of Mount Union College where he was an All-American linebacker, is in his first year as the Bowling Green cornerbacks coach after spending last season as a graduate assistant coach for the Falcons.
Davis, the son of Erica and Anthony Davis (his father played footbal for Toledo), was a standout on the Harding football team under coach DJ Dota.
Davis was ranked the No. 68 recruit in the state, and listed among the top 100 athletes in the nation.
Truss (5-10, 186), the son of William and Cassandra Truss, also was a standout and team captain at LaBrae under coach Bill Bohren. He helped the Vikings to a 10-2 record his senior year.
Watson said that Davis and Truss are integral parts of the Bowling Green team.
“They go to all the practices and do everything the team does other than playing the game. On game day they are red-shirted,” said Watson, who served as defensive coordinator at Emory & Henry for three seasons (2005-07).
“They will make the trip [to the bowl] and also dress but will not participate.”
Watson said that Davis and Truss are talented players.
“We did redshirt them this year. Both guys were outstanding players and we wanted to make sure they were [experienced] guys going into [next] year,” said Watson, who was an assistant coach at Mount Union for two years in 2003 and 2004.
The Humanitarian Bowl will be Bowling Green’s fourth bowl contest since 2003, the Falcons winning two of three outings.
Led by first-year head coach Dave Clawson, the Falcons are hoping to continue on the comeback trail.
After beginning the season with a 1-4 record, they have won six of their last seven contests to finish the year 7-5 overall and 6-2 in the Mid-American Conference.
Watson credits Bowling Green’s turnaround this season to experienced leadership.
“We won six of our last seven games. I credit 99 percent to the leadership of the upperclassmen who refused to give up and bought in 100 per cent [to our program],” said Watson. “A lot of teams facing that situation may have given up. That’s a mark of a good team that the senior leaders carry you through tough times.”
Watson is thankful that he was retained to the Bowling Green coaching staff despite the coaching change.
“I was fortunate enough that I remained a grad assistant for a couple of months [after my first year] and [Clawson] hired me as a member of the staff. It is a great opportunity,” said Watson, who knows what it is to be a winner and play for champions.
He made All-American in 2002 by Football Gazette and Hewlett Packard at Mount Union under coach Larry Kehres, a native of Diamond, and was a three-time All-Ohio Öthletic Conference first-team pick at outside linebacker.
Watson helped the Purple Raiders to win four national championships (1998, 2000, 2001, 2002).
Watson’s brother, Ross, also a former Mount Union standout and All-American cornerback, now is in his second year coaching at Nebraska under coach Bo Pelini (Cardinal Mooney).
“[Ross] is a defensive grad assistant coach but also coaches the corners, so he has a good opportunity there,” said Stan.
Ross also will be in an upcoming bowl game as Nebraska will face Arizona Dec. 30 in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego starting at 8 p.m. on ESPN.