By Joe catullo Jr.
Liberty High coach Kevin Cylar knew that his freshman running back, Lynn Bowden, had to gain at least 200 yards in order to beat LaBrae on Friday night.
Cylar and his coaching staff also made a promise if Bowden reached that mark.
“They told me if I get to 200 yards, they’d take me out to dinner,” Bowden said.
He did just that with exactly 200 rushing yards on 19 carries and two scores, leading the Leopards to a 29-6 victory.
“I’m going to order the biggest steak that he can handle,” the first-year coach said. “No limit. He can have however much he wants to. He likes to eat McDonald’s, so we’re trying to break him out of eating fast food because he just doesn’t like healthy food.”
Bowden, whom LaBrae coach John Armeni said is a stud in the making, beat the Vikings (2-2) with his speed. If he didn’t find a hole, he would sprint to the sidelines and out-run the competition.
He began slowly, rushing eight times for 41 yards and a touchdown through the first quarter. He then broke loose for a 68-yard run to the end zone during the second quarter.
Bowden ran about seven yards behind the line scrimmage before bursting to the Leopards’ sideline.
“He sees things happening before it happens, and that’s why you’re able to see him cut back and forth against a good defense,” Cylar said. “You can’t put a hand on him because he has great vision.”
Another key for the Leopards (2-2) was the defense that only allowed a late fourth-quarter touchdown when the game was already out of reach. Liberty allowed 163 total yards on 40 plays and collected an interception.
“Their defensive line is quick off the football, and they gave us fits up front,” Armeni said.
While the Leopards celebrated on the field and in the locker room, the Vikings left in disbelief. When LaBrae exited the stadium, Armeni sat Indian-style around the 20-yard line near the scoreboard with his head hung low, thinking one thought.
“It’s frustrating when you see the same mistakes week in and week out,” he said. “But our kids are young, and we’ve got to focus on getting better every week.”
Bowden and Cylar both said Friday’s game was the best Liberty has played this season. Bowden added that the Leopards won because they played as a family.
“This is the senior class’s third coach,” Cylar said. “There’s an offseason for a reason, and these kids didn’t have it. They didn’t have a weight-training program. These kids were basically abandoned until late June. “I couldn’t be prouder in another group of kids. These guys have so much heart. Words really don’t describe. They love me, and I love them.”