Oh, Bowie

Football to face Bulldogs in area playoff game


Davis Kuhn

Travis McCracken runs for a first down against Madison in the Rangers’ Bi-District playoff game. McCracken leads the team with 868 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns.

Jackson Posey, Sports Director

Heading into last Friday night, clear favorites emerged in several Bi-District playoff games. Among those favorites were Smithson Valley over Madison and Round Rock over Austin Bowie.

One of those teams handled its business. The other managed just 90 total yards in an upset loss to Bowie.

Round Rock entered its first-round playoff game riding high after an upset win of their own, beating then-undefeated Austin Vandegrift on the road, 38-20. But the Bulldog defense proved dominant, with the unit intercepting two passes, forcing a fumble and racking up seven sacks, not to mention the special teams unit blocking a punt.

It was Bowie’s first playoff win since 2016, a dry spell that included a fifth-place finish this past season and three first-round exits before that. But these aren’t your grandpa’s Bulldogs. Or your dad’s Bulldogs. Or even your slightly-older brother’s Bulldogs. After years of being overshadowed by Austin Westlake and Austin Lake Travis, they’re stepping into their own spotlight and shining.

“(They’re a) really good football team,” head coach Larry Hill said. “Their league top-to-bottom probably isn’t as competitive as ours, but at the very top you have Lake Travis, Westlake and then those guys. And they need to be talked about in the same conversation.”

That’s a big claim. Westlake is the top-ranked team in the state, Lake Travis is ranked No. 19, and both are widely favored to win Region IV in their respective brackets. But according to Hill, the gap between them and Bowie is closer than public discourse would suggest.

“They kind of fly under the radar a little bit because (Westlake and Lake Travis) have got so much notoriety, (but they’re) extremely talented, particularly up front defensively and with their skill position players on offense,” Hill said. “They’re extremely well-coached, really good in the kicking game, no real obvious flaws. Very competitive with Westlake and Lake Travis until late in the game, and honestly have pounded everybody else.”

Aside from those two teams and Round Rock, the Bulldogs have played a very winnable schedule. Their three preseason opponents combined to win nine games, and District 26-6A’s fourth playoff team, San Marcos, lost 52-14 in the first round to Vandegrift.

But that isn’t to say that Bowie is some sort of trust fund baby, gifted with a tribulation-free existence. They’ve played the teams in front of them, and in many cases, dominated. All nine of their wins were by multiple scores, including six by at least three touchdowns.

And despite what the final score of the Round Rock game may imply, the Bulldogs aren’t winning the games with defense alone. Spearheaded by running back Noah Camacho (1,160 yards rushing, 13 touchdowns) their offense averages 33.4 points per contest. But he doesn’t do it alone – he runs in the wake of an offensive line which caught the eye of sophomore defensive lineman Jaxson Maynard.

“Their O-Line is fast,” Maynard said. “They’re, like – they’re really, really fast. They do a lot of pulling and stuff. And it’s gonna be hard to defend, but I think we can do it pretty good.”

The teams will face off at Texas State University’s Bobcat Stadium, a venue the Rangers have played in 10 times before, most recently in 2016, when they lost to Lake Travis, 40-21.

“Ranger Stadium’s pretty nice, but obviously it’s not the same,” sophomore cornerback Jackson Duffey said. “But I don’t think it’ll make that much of a difference. The butterflies might be a little bit more, but once you start the game, you’re focused.”

The game will kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday. Tickets are available here.