Eleven years ago, Camren Bowes watched a Seattle Seahawks game with his dad and decided he might like to try football.
A first-grader, he joined a youth team called the Lacey Rams. The coaches put him at center. His brother, Chase, was a kindergartner and gave running back and quarterback a try before settling in at guard the next season, when the team changed its name to the Timberline Blazers — after the high school its players would attend.
Neither of the Bowes has changed positions or team colors since.
The brothers are key components of an offensive line that head coach Mike Spears, entering his second year at Timberline High School, calls the strength of the Blazers as they head into the inaugural season of the Class 3A South Sound Conference.
Never miss a local story.
“It’s really comfortable to have always played the same position,” Camren said. “I’m not fast, and I don’t have great hands, but I can snap the ball and I can block, so I might as well stay at center.”
It’s a seemingly wise decision for the 6-foot-2, 315-pound senior, who was named to The Olympian’s All-Area team last season as an offensive lineman, and was an all-4A Narrows League selection twice before the league disbanded earlier this year.
Chase, a 6-foot, 250-pound junior, went down with a knee injury at Bellarmine Prep during Week 5 of the 2015 season or else he, too, according to Spears, might have “been in the discussion” for postseason honors.
“They’re two of the hardest-working guys on the team,” Spears said. “You never have to worry about their grades or their behavior. They’re great students of the game, have awesome technique and are very coachable.”
The brothers’ coachability likely keeps things calmer at the Bowes house. Their dad, Harold, is the Blazers’ offensive line coach.
Timberline could be exceptional up front, with senior Kamiko Naipo (6-0, 245) manning the other guard position, and senior Jaelen Bush (6-7, 220) — a second team all-4A Narrows selection last season — and junior Conner Warick (6-4, 215) at tackle.
“The O-line is a really tight knit group,” Spears said. “You go into the commons and they’re all eating together. They’re good friends and good guys.”
“We’re all like brothers,” Chase said. “There’s no drama.”
“We all grew up playing football together since the second grade or so,” Camren added.
With potential attention grabbers such as junior wide receiver Michael Barnes and senior running back Anthony Hathaway at the skill positions, the Bowes brothers relish their roles as part of what can be an unsung supporting cast in Timberline’s spread pistol offense.
The formation requires football intellect and instincts, with linemen carrying out assignments more by feel than reads, Spears said.
For all their intelligence — Camren’s goal is to become an attorney, Chase is dialing in on medical school and cardiology — both are drawn to the physical nature of line play.
“I call the pass protection slides, but I really love run blocking,” Camren said. “There’s nothing like the feeling when you put someone on the ground and can say, ‘Yeah, I’m more powerful than you.’ ”
“I’m going to make sure I do my best to pancake someone on every play,” he said.
TIMBERLINE BLAZERS TEAM CAPSULE
Coach: Mike Spears, second year
2015 record: 4-6, fourth in 4A Narrows League.
Offense: Coordinator (set) — Riki Reid (spread pistol). Returning starters — 7. Top players — WR/RB Michael Barnes, 5-11, 180, jr.; OL Camren Bowes, 6-2, 300, sr.; OL Chase Bowes, 6-1, 260, jr.; RB Anthony Hathaway, 5-11, 205, sr.; QB Jacob Henning, 5-10, 175, sr.; QB Trenton Horn, 6-1, 210, sr.; OL Kamiko Naipo, 6-3, 280, sr.; OL Conner Warick, 6-5, 220, jr.
Defense: Coordinator (set) — Mike Spears (3-3). Returning starters — 5. Top players — DL Jalen Bush, 6-7, 235, sr.; LB Ty Edmond, 5-10, 205, jr.; DB Zach Rohr, 6-0, 180, sr.; DB Isaac Thompson, 6-1, 175, jr.; DL Alizen Wilson, 6-6, 380, sr.
Outlook: If there’s a sleeper team in this newly created league, Timberline could be it. The Blazers are big, experienced and deep in the trenches, and return the bulk of their offensive and defensive lines, including all-area selection Camren Bowes at center. Henning and Horn are a year more experienced after splitting time last season, and Hathaway runs hard and angry.
REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE
All games at 7 p.m. Home games at South Sound Stadium; road games at the campus of the opposing high school, unless otherwise noted.
Sept. 2: Timberline at Black Hills, at Tumwater District Stadium
Sept. 9: Timberline at Bonney Lake, at Sunset Chev Stadium
Sept. 16: *Capital at Timberline
Sept. 23: *Central Kitsap at Timberline
Sept. 30: *Timberline at Shelton
Oct. 7: *Timberline at Yelm
Oct. 14: *Gig Harbor at Timberline
Oct. 21: *Timberline at North Thurston
Oct. 27: *Peninsula at Timberline
*3A South Sound Conference game