NCS Junior of the Year
BROCK BOWERS, NAPA
Whether it was as a receiver, a ball carrier, a blocker or even as a kick returner, Napa High junior Brock Bowers was the premier threat on the field each game he played this season for the Grizzlies.
While Bowers thrived in all those roles for a Napa team that executed one of the top single-season turnarounds in Northern California this year, he hardly took a break when the team was on defense either. In fact, his presence at outside linebacker made him a force in all aspects of the game, and the key figure for which every Grizzlies’ opponent had to factor in their game plans.
“It really starts with his work ethic, and the culture he helped create this season,” said Napa coach Richie Wessman, who inherited a team which had gone winless the year before and guided it to seven victories and a berth in the NCS Division 2 playoffs. “Brock really leads by example, which is a great combination with his God-given ability and instincts on the football field.”
That ability led Wessman to devise numerous ways to get the ball into Bowers’ hands, despite his natural position as a tight end. While Bowers certainly took his share of snaps at the position which is causing top colleges across the country to target the 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior as a top recruit, he also moved into the backfield and out to receiver at times. The end result was over 1,000 yards receiving to go with over 300 yards on the ground (averaging well over 10 yards per carry) and 18 total touchdowns, which included an 85-yard kick return for a score in a non-league win over NCL champion Middletown.
“At this level, his ability to do so many different things certainly sets him apart,” Wessman added. “It was really fun to game-plan with him, and be able to use him in so many different ways.”
Bowers’ junior season stands in stark contrast to his sophomore campaign, when Napa struggled mightily in its first year in the North Coast Section, going 0-10. As Wessman entered, however, expectations raised for a program which had been used to success on an annual basis, especially with a junior class which had gone 9-1 in their freshman season.
“We had a really good group of juniors this year to go with some talented returning seniors, and Coach really knew what he wanted to do with us,” Bowers said. “It was fun to get moved around a lot and find different ways to attack defenses.”
Thanks to Wessman moving him around, Bowers finished with a somewhat unique final line for a tight end. He had two 100-yard rushing games to go with six 100-yard receiving games, not to mention racking up double digits in tackles for a loss on the defensive end. He is also somewhat of an exception to Wessman’s roster philosophy, which employs primarily one-way players. That should not be a surprise, considering that schools such as Michigan, Oregon, Colorado, Notre Dame, Oregon State, LSU, Georgia and Washington are among his multitude of high-profile suitors who have extended offers.
“Brock can pick things up after just being told one time, so while we usually prefer one-way guys, he is certainly the exception to that rule,” Wessman said. “We’re looking forward to doing even more with him next year, and to have even more fun.”
“There have been many great football players to come through Napa and Napa High School, but Brock is the best one I have seen since (former Napa and University of Oregon standout) John Boyett,” said Prep2Prep contributor and Napa Sports News editor Kyle Foster. “You find yourself waiting for that highlight reel type of moment with Brock.”
Though the season ended with back-to-back losses, falling to rival Vintage on a Crushers’ touchdown with 23 seconds remaining, and then losing to Clayton Valley in the playoffs, the ending did little to dampen the renewed spirits of the Napa program. That feeling was especially warranted considering the injury struggles late in the season, as the Grizzlies played without starting quarterback Isaiah Newton in the playoff loss and Bowers played with a broken hand, an injury suffered in the first half of the Vintage game but not properly diagnosed until after the Clayton Valley game, and serious enough to now keep him out for basketball season.
But while overcoming his current hand injury will not be a challenge for next year, or even for the circuit of camps and combines he will likely attend this spring, Bowers and Wessman are both looking forward to other challenges for next fall, as the Grizzlies won’t surprise anyone after this year’s resurgence.
“We can make a run next year. We can go pretty far,” Bowers said. “This is a tight-knit group coming back and we are ready to work hard together to make that happen.”
For his efforts this past season, we are pleased to recognize Brock Bowers as the Prep2Prep North Coast Section Junior of the Year.
Other players considered for this award include Clayton Valley’s Omari Taylor, Del Norte’s Levi Cox-Cooley and Cardinal Newman’s Shane Moran.