Mission going swimmingly for Coach Bowling’s @MurrayTigerFB. @minguabeefjerky @PrepSpin @KyHighFootball @1776Bank

Murray High School hired a new coach. He came in and immediately installed his system and the slogan On a Mission.

Heading into the second round of the KHSAA playoffs, the district championship round, it is time to take stock of just how this “Mission” is going. It would appear to be going along just dandy, at least if you were to ask us.

Murray High sits at 8-2 headed into a second round appointment with Mighty Mayfield. The Tigers are coming off a two-touchdown victory over Caldwell County in the opening round.

The Caldwell County High School Tigers entered that match-up 7-3 and among the leaders in RPI in the 2A classification. Caldwell left the game looking forward to basketball season.

Darren Bowling

Murray graduated many valuable assets from off its semi-final team from ’20. The prevailing thinking (at least around our offices) was there would be a drop-off from one season to the next caused by graduation. Well…not necessarily.

Raise your hand if you saw Murray High traveling to Mayfield for round two with an 8-2 mark, including a 25-21 victory over Mayfield on October 22, 2021. Ours won’t be among the hands extended either.

Coach Bowling, in his first season in Murray, Kentucky, has put his stamp on this program faster than we thought he could. We don’t know why we expected anything less. We certainly weren’t paying attention to his coaching history.

In 11-seasons in Union City as coach of Tennessee’s Golden Tornadoes, Bowling led the team to four state titles (‘2013, ’14, ’15 1A, and ’17 2A). He led his team to a 38-game win streak from 2013-2015. He won 116-games in those 11-years and had a winning percentage of .753.

Coach Bowling won two state titles in Louisana. He formerly coached at Silliman High outside Baton Rouge. Coach Bowling’s overall coaching record, including his 8-2 so far this year, is 224-97. Whatever he’s doing seems to be working.

We talked to a coach named Adam Dowland about Darrren Bowling preseason. He told KPGFootball, “He runs a similar offense to what Herman Boone ran at T.C. Williams in the movie, Remember the Titans. Bowling runs split veer. Like Coach Boone’s version, Coach Bowling’s version is like Novacaine. It (too) always works.”

Boone bragged about running only six plays. We can’t say Coach Bowling’s offense only has six plays. We can say what plays are installed are run with precision and executed perfectly or the people charged with running these plays would never be on the field.

We can also say for certain, the players have bought in to this system. The benefits are both strident and undeniable.

We know how well power run schemes work against western-Kentucky, high-school competition. It wasn’t long ago, Franklin-Simpson was ruling the roost on this side of Kentucky running its patented Wing-T to 4A titles in both ’17 and ’18.

No player in Kentucky has benefitted, or taken to the scheme change, any better than leading ’21 workhorse, Rowdy Sokolowski. Last year, the ’22 prospect was third in rushing for this team, averaging 61 or so yards per game and 4.7 yards per rushing attempt.

Photo of Sokolowski Murray Ledger

This season, having graduated both Charvelle McCallister and Brendan Dahncke, Sokolowski has gained 1,012-yards rushing in 100-carries, averaging over 112-yards per outing and over 10-yards per rushing attempt over his first nine (9) games. We don’t know what Sokolowski did in round one as those statistics weren’t posted by the time we sat down to write this feature. Through his first nine (9), he’s killing it.

The entire team has benefitted. This year, the Tigers have gained (in 9-games) 3,106-yards rushing in 374-carries with 47-rushing TDs. Last year, with two seniors who both gained more yards on the year than Sokolowski and in a 12-game sampling, gained only 2,407-yards rushing over 484-carries with 35-rushing TDs. The improvement is astounding.

All of this is crucially important. Teams who can control the flow of the game, manage the game clock, and limit mistakes and the opponent’s opportunities plus minimize turnovers are the teams which advance. There is a reason teams like Johnson Central, Belfry, Beechwood, and the like are able to enjoy yearly playoff success.

Coach Bowling’s teams enjoy this same level of playoff success. We have heard the best time to catch a Darren Bowling coached team is early in the year. This time of year, it’s like catching a Tiger by its tail. We all know how poorly that tends to work.

This is Coach HB Lyon, reporting for KPGFootball, and we’re JUST CALLING IT LIKE WE SEE IT!

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About Henry Lyon 1210 Articles
Have coached at the high school and middle school level. Have worked in athletic administration. Conceal my identity to enable my candor on articles published by this magazine. Only members of the editorial board are aware of my true identity.

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