Hooks, linemen lead Harding into post-Lynn Bowden era

WARREN, Ohio (WTYV) – For the past two seasons, Lynn Bowden put on a show on the turf at Mollenkopf Stadium — a driving force for the Warren Harding football team.

But, the Ohio Mr. Football candidate has graduated to the college ranks at the University of Kentucky. Now, for those Raiders that return this season, Head Coach Steve Arnold is emphasizing one basic message.

“It’s your turn now,” he said. “That’s the term I use — ‘It’s your turn now.’ Tremendous class [last year], but they’re gone. And the beat goes on for Warren football. It’s your turn now, so let’s go get it done. Real simple.”

Helping the cause is Division I recruit Jalen Hooks, who has proven to be a big play waiting to happen at wide receiver. Hooks piled up more than 400 receiving yards and eight touchdowns last fall.

“I know most of the history about the players who came through here before us,” Hooks said. “And it just makes me want to play like them. I have a lot of big expectations because I know it’s a lot of pressure with me having several offers at the D-1 level. I have to live up to them expectations.”

Who will throw to Hooks and company has not yet been decided. Sterling Frazier, Chris Chew and Zane Cylar are all competing for the starting QB spot in camp.

“We may not know until the first week,” Arnold said. “We may play two quarterbacks, I don’t know. But right now, those guys are fighting for the spot. Obviously you’d like one of them just to take the job right now and pull away. But right now, they’re competing with one another. We’ll see in a couple weeks.”

Whoever is under center will be well-protected. The Raiders will have plenty of size and experience up front on a line anchored by senior Dan Angelo.

“If you’re pretty good up front — nine times out of 10 — you can have a pretty good season,” Arnold said. “And that’s what our strength is — our O-line and D-line.”

“Yea, I might be a little biased because I’m a lineman,” Angelo said. “But I think just having a lot of experience up front with guys who have done it before will just help settle everybody down.”

Harding opens the season on Aug. 25 at Canton McKinley. The Raiders’ first home game comes Week 2 vs. Massillon, followed by home matchups against Fitch and Ursuline.

“Our expectations haven’t changed,” Arnold said. “Get to Week 11 and let’s see how everything pans out.”

“It’s definitely an honor to play at a school like this with all the great players that have come before us and great teams,” Angelo said. “We just hope to continue that kind of tradition.”