For 47:56, the Bowie Bears had played a strong game to take a 24-19 lead on District 1-5A contender Andress last Friday. But with four seconds left, the game was still on the line.
The Andress Eagles had one last chance from the Bowie 31-yard line to win. That’s when Andress quarterback Dominique Smith heaved a pass to the end zone intended for receiver Keshon White. The pass was intercepted by Bears cornerback Dominic Johnson to secure a stunning win for the Bears.
“I was kind of nervous, I’m going to be honest,” said Johnson on the game-sealing interception, “But I was kind of expecting them to throw the ball to him (White) because he made a few plays. I was just waiting for the ball to be thrown and once I knew that it was coming to me, I knew I had to make the play.”
That interception sealed an emotional win for the Bears, who are 5-0 this season. It was their first win over Andress in 22 years and it was an emotional win for a team that’s always embraced the underdog role.
“It was amazing. I was shocked,” said Bowie quarterback German Carrasco. “I’m happy to say that we were able to beat them and made history here at Bowie.”
“Sometimes, we tend to get labeled as underachievers here or we’re just not quite up to par as some of the other parts of town,” said Bowie head coach Robert Padilla, “so when you do something like that against a quality opponent like Andress, that speaks volumes about our kids.”
History is very rich at Bowie, located on El Paso’s South Side in Segundo Barrio, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. On top of that, the school sits less than 100 yards from the U.S.-Mexico border.
Eighth-year head coach Robert Padilla and his staff are trying to make some more history of their own. If the Bears make the playoffs again this season, it would be their fifth straight playoff appearance, something that Coach Padilla says he can’t ever remember happening.
Building a winning culture at a program that had struggled mightily in years past wasn’t easy, but Padilla says that it’s grown over time.
“The main idea was: How do we get to being competitive before we start reaching that next level which was the playoffs on a continuous basis and then reaching for that district championship?” he said.
This run of success is even more special when you learn that Padilla and his entire coaching staff are all Bowie alumni. Having that connection to a community has proven to be highly valuable.
“The support has always been there and I think that’s been one of the big keys that has helped us put everything together,” Padilla said.
On the field, the Bears rely on a tough defense and a strong running game, but Coach Padilla says they have a lot more balance this year in the passing game. They will put their undefeated record on the line on Thursday when the also-undefeated Chapin Huskies come in to the South Side. Padilla sees this as another big opportunity for his to prove themselves against the defending champions of District 1-5A.
“We’ve never been able to beat them at the varsity level but we should never say never. I think we did very well last week against Andress showing our mettle and showing that we can play a little bit too. We just have to step up the challenge.”
The players also recognize the magnitude of this game and playing it at home gives the Bears a little extra juice for Thursday.
“Playing at home means a lot,” said Carrasco, “We have to defend the South Side and we have to defend home turf and make our fans proud.”