Friday Night Hero: West Rowan’s Eric Cowan
By Bret Strelow
MOUNT ULLA ó The name might not ring a bell, but Eric Cowan has an actual ring to prove he participated in West Rowan’s state championship run.
Cowan, a 5-foot-8 junior, and brother Quan, a senior, are new starters in West’s secondary.
Cowan was one of 11 jayvee call-ups who spent the 2008 postseason with the varsity team. A running back at the time, he had two carries for 5 yards as the Falcons routed South Point.
They beat West Craven for the 3A title a week later.
“It was a privilege to get moved up, that I did enough on jayvee so I could get moved up,” Cowan said. “I actually got to play a little, and it felt good. Then we won the state championship game, and it felt good to get the ring and the win.”
West coach Scott Young and defensive coordinator David Hunt agreed that Cowan played well in his official debut as a cornerback. The Falcons led 54-0 at halftime and defeated Central Cabarrus by the same score.
Cowan, also a contributor on special teams, looked impressive in his pursuit and tackle of a running back who had reversed course behind the line of scrimmage during a speed option.
“He’s athletic, he’s physical and he is very football smart,” Young said. “He’s got good football instincts. He’s doing a lot for this football team right now, and we need him to keep getting better.”
A defensive back in middle school, Cowan was a fullback and tailback in his first two years at West Rowan.
He completed four weeks of preseason camp last year, made it through a 10-game jayvee schedule and was involved in a five-game playoff run, so Young declared him and others worthy of a ring as the reward for roughly 20 weeks of hard work.
Cowan didn’t raise any objections.
“I stood out here in the cold at practice,” he said with a laugh during a break from drills Monday. “When it came to be gametime I went out there and cheered my teammates on.”
The Falcons entered this year with a pair of returning starters in the secondary: Dominique Noble and Trey Mashore.
Needing to replace departed seniors Austin Greenwood and Marco Gupton, the coaches considered Cowan because of his athleticism.
The transition started in weight-room and chalk-talk sessions six months ago.
“By May we knew we had something,” Hunt said. “He just took to it like a duck to water.”
A stout line led by Chris Smith, who has committed to Arkansas, put relentless pressure on Central’s offense. Young called an effective front seven the best tool for Cowan’s on-the-job training.
Cowan acknowledged that he feels pressure stepping in as a starter for a championship team. He said he will just do the best he can, and playing alongside his brother has eased the process of communicating in the secondary.
The Falcons will have a stiffer test Friday when they face Northwest Cabarrus. Talented quarterback Jeremy Cannon will lead the Trojans into Mount Ulla early in a season full of new challenges.
With that in mind, Cowan doesn’t waste time gazing at his championship ring.
“I put it up after we started the ’09 season,” Cowan said. “I don’t want to think about it, not look at it so I can focus on another one, like starting from scratch.”