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Murray Journal

New CHS football coach begins cleaning up a program in tatters

Jul 27, 2017 10:15AM ● By Brian Shaw

The refurbished Colts weight room looks clean. (Tomas D’Anella)

New Cottonwood High football coach Bart Bowen said he began the arduous task of cleaning up the Colts program literally by starting from scratch. When you build a program from the ground up, he added, the whole thing usually looks like a complete mess.

And so when Bowen walked into the facility for the first time, he said he wasn’t all that surprised.

“I’m gonna be honest; it was kind of a mess when I got in there,” said Bowen. “The first thing I wanted to do was clean out my facilities—the press box, the office, straighten out the weight room. I mean, I had to reorganize everything in there. It wasn’t easy to do. It took me a few days.”

Bowen takes over a program that saw 10-15 players transfer to other schools before he arrived off of an abysmal 1-9 season. By the time Bowen got there, however, he said he didn’t have the opportunity to talk to any of these players who had left after last year’s disaster of a season.

Had Bowen had the opportunity to do so, he probably would have borrowed from Urban Meyer’s famous leadership philosophy that he’s been studying and talked to these disillusioned kids to determine whether they had the tendency to display above-the-line or below-the-line behavior.

Kids who display below-the-line behavior blame others, complain and defend themselves or others, he said—while above-the-line behavior kids, according to Meyer, are conscious, thoughtful and have an idea on whom they want to be in life and the direction in which they must go to get to where they want to go.

But, to get to that point that Meyer talks about in his philosophy, Bowen added, it won’t happen overnight. “It’s gonna take awhile,” said Bowen about the program he took over. Like this Cottonwood program that is literally in ruins, Bowen is no stranger from getting there from the rock bottom.

Unlike most previous CHS football coaches, Bowen didn’t play in college. He was an undersized, hard working player at Bear River High School but didn’t receive a single college offer. 

“I always loved the game, so after college when I got my teaching license I started at Mountain Crest under [legendary coach] Mark Wootten and worked my way up,” he said. 

That career included a lengthy stop at Kearns High School as a position coach and later an assistant head coach and running game coordinator under another legend in Bill Cosper. At Kearns, Bowen said he learned a valuable lesson as well.

“We’ve been dealing with the recruiting thing there for years,” said Bowen. “So here at Cottonwood we don’t recruit players. I want Cottonwood to be a program that people will treat with respect. When they leave the program here I want them to have a different interpretation of success and winning. We’ll build them with character and teach them values.”

But first, Bowen said he intends to teach the kids how to work hard at morning workouts he’s holding this June. Like everything else in the Cottonwood program though, he said that process is slow going.

“We’ve had our morning workouts four days a week,” said Bowen. “And we’ve got a core group of guys who have been committed but make no mistake about it, we’re not super deep.” 

Bowen added that he’s only seen about 50 kids total—and that’s throughout all the programs. For a team that just had their worst season in over a decade, you start building it back up to prominence with the details.

“How do you change it? You have to try to get the players to buy in; it’s either that you’re all on or you’re all off. On the field I want to be competitive in every game; special teams we’ll hammer hard,” said Bowen, who indicated he could still use more kids in his program.

Eventually, Bowen said he’s got enough kids for two teams right now. But, he added that he’d like to build Cottonwood back into three teams so that he could begin to focus on player development. But, he refuses to do that the wrong way so if a slow, steady process is what he’ll need to get the job done he’s committed to the task at hand.

“I’m not going to sacrifice character for better numbers; it could do more harm than good,” added Bowen. “You don’t have to be the most talented to play on this team.”

The Colts open the 2017 season with a non-region contest August 18 at Olympus.