Bowen Smith: Leading the way

UPike quarterback Bowen Smith runs with the ball in action last season. The senior quarterback is looking to be the clear-cut leader for the Bears this season.

Leadership.

Experience.

That’s what UPike quarterback Bowen Smith is bringing to the table during his senior season.

The Bears return a lot of experience on both sides of the ball.

UPike’s offense kept getting better and better as the season progressed.

“Last year, offensively, we moved the ball really well,” Smith said. “I think we averaged over 30 points per game, which is really good for an offense. We got a lot of older guys coming back, especially on the offensive line. I think we have five guys back up front and they are seniors starting, so that’s really big for us. In the backfield, X (Xondre Willis) is coming back and he’s an older guy. Besides him, we have some young guys and transfers. On the perimeter, we have some older guys back as well and all of them can play. We’re definitely starting to click and get in the groove from where we left off last year. We got a good mix back this year and I’m definitely excited. The offense has looked good in camp. We moved the ball well and have gelled well with the new guys.”

Bowen had a big season.

He was 73 for 138 passing for 1,140 yards and 12 touchdowns with two interceptions. He also rushed for 63 yards and a TD on 25 carries.

The Bears’ entire offensive line is back and that should help Smith pick up where he left off.

“That’s huge having the older guys starting up front,” Smith said. “Chase (Owens) has been starting since his freshman year. Across the whole board, everybody has had a ton of time, so it really isn’t anybody’s first year starting. We have a lot of experience on the line. They help me as much as I help them. If they see the outside backers coming, they’ll give me a heads up or something. If I see something they don’t see, then I can help them out as well and get us in the best position and protection or run scheme as possible.”

After a full season starting at quarterback, Smith knows and understands the Bears’ offense.

He knows what to expect from the coaches and that should help the Bears be even more successful this season.

“The coaching staff here is great,” Smith said. “It helps you put up those points when you have a great quarterback head coach like coach (Al) Holland and quarterback coach (Trevor) Hoskins. He’s (Trevor) played in this same exact offense with the same signals and everything. Getting to learn under him has been great because he’s played in this exact system, so he understands it. It’s been great for me personally. Then having the offensive wide-receiver guru like coach (Justin) Lamb, he does a great job with those guys on the perimeter. Coach (Erik) Mobley with the offensive line and coach (Derrick) Lucas with the running backs, those guys do great jobs. Coach Holland works with all of these guys and they come up with a plan and he does a great job with the play calls. He being a great quarterback himself and with us having the option to throw on every single play is huge. The coaching staff definitely helps us out and makes our jobs easier. It’s great getting to learn under guys like that.”

Even though Smith put up big numbers last season, he doesn’t worry about statistics. He’s more focused on becoming a better leader for the team. The team’s success is more of his focus.

“Individually, I just want to become a better leader,” Smith said. “Statistically, I don’t really have any goals like that. I don’t set those because they’re just individual awards. I just want to focus on being a better leader, get stronger in the weight room, get faster and be a guy that anybody on the team can approach if they have any questions even if it’s outside of football and about life or school work. I just want to be a guy people can come too and circle around.

“We did set some team goals. One of my biggest team goals I wanted to set was to be undefeated at home. Protecting our home turf is huge. Be undefeated at home, win a conference championship with a playoff berth and ultimately win a national championship here at UPike.”

UPike is scheduled to open the season Thursday, August 29 on the road at Murray State University at 7:00 p.m.

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