MORGANTOWN — When the Mohawk Bowl kicks off at 8 p.m. Friday, Morgantown’s Maddox Bowers and University’s Luke Hudson will each take the field for their first start in the historic rivalry game.
What will be familiar to the two starting quarterbacks though, is the one wearing the other uniform.
Both juniors at their respective schools, Bowers and Hudson met when they were in second grade, long before high school, when they found themselves as teammates playing in various rec sports throughout the area.
“Maddox and I grew up very close to each other, and I think of him as a good friend,” Hudson said. “We met playing basketball in second grade and have always been affiliated in sports together with basketball and baseball.”
Hudson, who didn’t begin playing football until late in middle school, said he has seen Maddox play over the years and knows what he can bring to the table.
“(Bowers) is a great player who has a very strong arm,” Hudson said of the MHS quarterback. “He has come back strong after his injury last year and I can tell that he is a great leader and knows his ability. He always performs at a very high and sharp level on the field.”
Bowers recalled the years of travel baseball that he and Hudson played together, saying that no matter the sport being played, Hudson always had a knack for it.
“Luke and I have known each other for a while, and to me he’s always been a smart player in whatever sport we’ve played in,” Bowers said. “Even if we were playing against each other, I always had the feeling that he wouldn’t make any mental mistakes and I didn’t like playing against him.”
Now, Bowers finds himself doing just that, going toe-to-toe with his former teammate, now rival, in arguably the biggest Mohawk Bowl ever for both teams.
UHS sits at 6-2 on the year, is 11th in this week’s WVSSAC playoff rankings and can essentially lock up a playoff spot with a win against MHS on Friday. For Bowers and the Mohigans, they find themselves with a record of 5-3 and ranked 14th, needing two big wins to close out the year and secure a playoff spot of their own.
Seeing as this is the first time both starting QBs will begin the Mohawk Bowl under center, and with playoff implications on the line, both Hudson and Bowers will do the best they can to block out the noise and take care of business.
“This game means a lot to me for a lot of reasons,” Hudson explained. “I’ve grown up going to this game and now that I have the chance to not only play, but be a key player means a lot to me. I prepare and study so hard for games like this and that, combined with belief in myself, allows me to treat this as just another game.”
Bowers is taking a slightly different approach to the game, saying that while he could try to make it feel like any other game, “it really isn’t”.
“There are playoff implications on the line and obviously with it being a rivalry game with some history, it would be difficult to treat it as any other game,” he said.
What the two can agree upon though, is the readiness of their teams for the biggest game of the year for either side. MHS comes into the game after scoring 40-plus points in two consecutive weeks.
“Our team is feeling good right now,” Bowers said of the locker room. “Offense has put up some big points the past two weeks and our defense has played stellar at home this year against three quality opponents, so this will be exciting.”
Hudson echoed the words of his counterpart. Winners of four games in a row, the Hawks are rolling into November and hope to continue the momentum against MHS.
“The locker room feels ready. Everybody knows this game means a lot for both teams in the playoff standings,” Hudson said. “But at the moment we all have one common goal and that is to perform the task at hand and not worry about the outcome, while still wanting to win.”
The 2022 Mohawk Bowl will kick off at 8:00 p.m. today at Pony Lewis Field at Morgantown High School. Kickoff is pushed back due to the WVU homecoming parade.
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