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Kittanning's Bowers back at full strength after missing most of 2012 season

| Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Matt Grubba | Leader Times
Kittanning junior linebacker/wide receiver Nick Bowers looks in a pass during the team's practice on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 at Kittanning High School.
Matt Grubba | Leader Times
Kittanning junior linebacker/wide receiver Nick Bowers catches a pass during the team's practice on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 at Kittanning High School.
Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Kittanning's Nick Bowers is returning from a season-ending head injury suffered in Week 4 of the 2012 season.

Nick Bowers was on his way to being one of last season's stars for Kittanning before an injury cut his sophomore season short.

But now that Bowers healthy again, the junior wide receiver and middle linebacker hopes to pick up where he left off.

Bowers was one of the Wildcats' leading tacklers and the second-leading receiver by yardage among Armstrong County players with 269 yards when a concussion ended his season in the team's fourth game last year against Summit Academy.

The junior playmaker is fully recovered, and last Saturday's scrimmage against West Shamokin was his first chance to go live against another football team in 11 months.

“I didn't even get to play half of the season last year, so it feels good to be back,” Bowers said. “I felt good in the (first) scrimmage. I knew everything I needed to when I came back, and I was ready to go.”

Kittanning coach Frank Fabian was happy to see his junior star in midseason form during that first scrimmage, as Bowers was back to his dominant self on the defensive side. The junior also caught a touchdown pass to show that all aspects of his game are ready to go.

“He probably was our best two-way player before he got hurt last year, and he was coming off a great game against Greensburg Central Catholic, who has got some big boys,” Fabian said. “It was a big loss on both sides of the football, so we're real happy to see him back.”

What makes Bowers a special player, according to his coach, is his all-around athleticism. Though he is nearly 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, he can run as well as the team's smaller players and has great leaping ability that he also shows when he's on the basketball court.

“So often you get those big guys that don't run as well, but he has all the tools,” Fabian said. “No. 1, he's big, but he's physical, and he can run. He's what we call an eraser on defense. Sometimes you get caught in the wrong look or the wrong call, and he bails you out just by making a play.”

Bowers said he has felt 100 percent since the beginning of summer and has no lingering effects of his injury.

His coach said that early in the team's workouts, Bowers needed some extra recovery time as he returned to game shape, but now he's back to the level he was last season.

Bowers will need to be in top shape as he takes on a much larger role this season. The Wildcats are replacing their top passer, rusher and top two receivers from last season, but the thought of being a focal point of the offense and a defensive standout doesn't faze Bowers.

“My goals are the team goals — one win at a time,” Bowers said. “I think I'm ready to take on that (leadership) role. I've got one more year after this one, and I played last year, so I think I'm ready. I want to be that go-to guy, every time.”

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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