It’s been some time since Bowsher’s football team dealt with defeat.
The Rebels (2-0) haven’t lost since the fifth game of last season and take a seven-game winning streak into Friday night's nonleague game at Northview.
“It’s a great feeling just coming off of last season after winning the City League championship, and I feel like we just have to keep this going on,” said Mark Washington, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior running back.
Confidence is high under fourth-year coach Craig Lubinski.
“We’re 2-0 right now and we’re on a seven-game win streak, and it feels great,” said Khane Collins, a 6-foot, 205-pound senior running back. “Personally, I want to win all of our games. I want to go to the playoffs.
“It’s my senior year, and we’re all thinking the same. We want to go to the playoffs, so we’ve got to keep winning.”
Northview, Marion Harding, and Warren Howland represent their remaining nonleague games before the City League schedule begins.
Bowsher returns 20 letter-winners from last season’s team that finished 6-4 overall and 5-0 in the CL, the school’s first title since 1979.
“It’s one week at a time,” Lubinski said. “We can't have any letdowns. It’s not like we’re blowing people out all of a sudden and we’re going to have a big letdown.
“It’s just week to week and get back to work. These guys are all blue-collar kids. They get after it. They like the hard work. They like the physical practices and it pays off on Friday nights.”
What has taken place the past two Fridays is Bowsher displaying plenty of resiliency in climbing back from halftime deficits to pull out victories.
The Rebels trailed Maumee by 13 at halftime of their season opener before rallying to post a 24-20 victory. Bowsher trailed Springfield by six at halftime before winning 22-20 at home.
The Rebels are taking what they did in the first two weeks and are literally running with the idea of being a team that gets stronger as the game gets longer.
“It says a lot about our conditioning,” Lubinski said. “I guess we’re in better shape than I think we are, but that doesn’t mean I pull the hammer off. We still keep training hard and get after it.
“But these kids just refuse to lose. They come after it, they get after it, and they respond.”
How the Rebels have bounced back from halftime deficits goes against today’s trendy, pass-first approach.
The Rebels have relied on a ground game primarily featuring Collins and Washington.
They entered the season as two of the most promising running backs in the CL. Early on they have established themselves as the top duo in the league.
Collins returns as the league’s top scorer and rusher from last season. A three-year starter, he rushed for 1,000 yards on 151 carries. He led the team with eight touchdowns.
This season he’s rushed for 311 yards on 53 carries, while Washington has gained 274 yards on 39 attempts and has scored a team-leading five touchdowns. Last year, he finished with 357 yards on 44 carries and scored five TDs.
“Both of those guys are unselfish and will do anything we ask them to do,” Lubinski said.
Washington. who became eligible to play midway through last season after transferring from Central Catholic, has also been a defensive force, leading the team with 18 tackles, including four tackles-for-loss.
Isaiah Walker (6-1, 200) ranks second with 12 tackles and Phoenix Reid (5-8, 165) has registered 11 for a team that has outscored its first two opponents 32-7 after halftime.
The running game has been the key to the Rebels’ success and Collins said sharing the backfield with Washington works because they're complementary with their running styles.
Collins provides shiftiness and power running, while Washington is a big back capable of running over would-be tacklers. Late in games against Maumee and Springfield, Washington began to wear down the defenses with his physical style.
“He comes out of the game, I execute. I come out of the game, he executes,” Collins said. “It’s not even a tired thing. It’s just the rotation. It’s whoever is doing their thing.”
Washington said sharing the starting backfield with Collins is a case of friendly competition that has brought out the best in both.
“It’s just a battle,” Washington said. “I told him if we both are going to eat, we have to both get our yards, and we’re both going to work hard.”
Steve Johnson is also a proven third option as a ballcarrier. The 6-foot, 205-pound senior ranked as the ninth-best rusher in the league last season with 435 yards on 90 carries. He’s gained 59 yards on 14 carries, including a TD, and has recorded nine tackles on defense.
Quarterback Mac Jewell showed last year that he’s a capable passer — he completed 62 of 119 passes for 783 yards and four TDs.
The 6-1, 190-pound senior has completed six of 12 passes for 38 yards this year.
Lubinski said he’s been content with the Rebels keeping it on the ground.
“It’s fun to watch,” Lubinski said. “The offensive line is getting better every week. As long as we keep having success on the ground that's where we’re going to be.”