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NEW RICHMOND - There was a time a few years ago when Caleb Bower had to be coaxed onto the football field, recruited by friends.

These days, Bower serves that role, recruiting his friends at Wyoming East to play football.

And it has worked, with athletes like Chase York, McQuade Canada and others playing football for the Warriors this year.

It wasn't that way a few years ago.

"The first time I played football was B team," Bower said. "My friends talked me into it. I really didn't think I would like it. I played basketball. I never thought that it would be something I would like."

Now it's his turn to talk some of his friends into playing football.

"I am glad some of these guys are deciding to play football again," Bower said. "I tried to talk them into it last year but it didn't happen. But I'm glad they are playing this year."

These days the once-reluctant running back is one of the better backs in Class AA, coming off a season in which he rushed for 1,290 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Seven times he topped 100 yards rushing. He averaged 7.4 yards per carry.

With his line returning, a plethora of receivers, quarterback Seth Ross and fullback Alex Hall, Bower and the Warriors are expecting big things, including a turnaround from a 2-8 record last season.

Will it be a complete turnaround?

"Most of the things I hear about the team are positive and we have been working hard," Bower said. "We did not finish well last year. But with coach (Larry) Thompson coming in with a lot of positive energy, we are expecting to have a good season."

The Warriors showed flashes last season, especially early, including a close 48-47 loss to playoff team Oak Hill last season.

That was also Bower's best game, when he rushed for 222 yards and a touchdown, caught four passes for 41 yards and a touchdown and had 303 all-purpose yards.

"And, I had an 88-yard run for a touchdown called back," Bower said. "We all felt that was a game we could have and should have won against a good team."

While Oak Hill struggled to slow Bower on that September Friday night, the Warriors' rising junior was slowed a bit recently by the sprained ankle that caused him to miss the prestigious Rivals camp he was invited to in Charlotte.

He was one of 100 players selected to attend after attending an earlier camp with 3,300 campers.

There were 11 such camps across the country, which means all told, Bower was one of 100 selected from over 30,000 players.

"I was getting ready to go to bed and we've got these three stairs in our house," Bower said. "I was wearing socks and I slipped and sprained it. I really hated to miss that camp. I was looking forward to it."

He has still done his fair share of camping this summer, attending the WVU camp last month as well, where he turned in a 4.6 40. Understand, too, he has kept that speed while excelling in the weight room where he has benched over 300 pounds.

"One of my goals is to play football at WVU," Bower said. "I really liked it there. The weight room (in the Puskar Center) is crazy, the coaches were great."

Other goals, aside from breaking the Warriors five-year playoff drought would be breaking the school rushing record that is believed to be 236 yards. He came close against Oak Hill, with that 222-yard game.

"That's one I have always thought about, but at the end of the day I'd really like to help the team make the playoffs," Bower said.

If all else fails, he has proven to be adept at recruiting as well.

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