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From Bowie High to Bowie State Football

Football players William Bailey and Steve Marks prepare for the first game of the college season on Saturday for local Division II program.

Tropical Storm Irene was just a memory, having passed through Bowie more than 24 hours earlier.

The sky was mostly blue with a slight wind blowing the small markers on the top of the goalposts on the football field at Bowie State University on Monday afternoon.

About 50 yards behind one end zone students were unloading their cars in preparation for the fall semester.

Inside the football stadium the Bulldogs of Bowie State were preparing for their first game of the season, a non-conference contest at Assumption on Saturday in Worcester, MA.

"I am ready for the season but I am not looking forward to the eight-hour bus ride," said one player.

At least two Bowie High graduates who have made the trek up Rt. 197 to play for "the other" Bulldogs hope to be key contributors this season for Bowie State, which was 6-4 overall last season and lost its last three games.

That came one season after BSU won a division title and advanced to the title game of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA).

"This is the year for the seniors. This is our year," said William Bailey, a graduate who now plays in the defensive backfield for Bowie State.

Bailey admits it was even a long shot for him to be playing college football. He said a track coach at Bowie High put him in touch with Bowie State, and now he is playing both sports at the school.

He said the key to the team's defense is senior linebacker Delano Johnson, who played at Dunbar High in Baltimore and is on the radar of NFL scouts.

"He is probably one of the best athletes on the team," Bailey said. "He is heart and soul of the team."

Last year Bailey played in eight games, with no starts, and had five solo tackles and two assists.

Damon Wilson, the head coach for Bowie State, hopes that Bailey can aid the team's defense in 2011. "I think he can contribute this year. He played special teams last year. He is a two-sport guy," Wilson said.

Another Bowie High grad at Bowie State is Steve Marks, a sophomore offensive lineman.

The Bulldogs have a new offensive coordinator, Jason Woodman, which means pre-season practice takes on added significance.

"We have to be on the same page," Marks said. "It starts with us up front on the offensive line."

During the early part of practice Monday, the offensive unit was at one end of the field working out under the direction of Woodman. He has worked on the staffs of major programs such as Florida State and LSU.

The defensive group was at the other end of the field before the two groups joined forces to continue workouts.

Last Bowie State averaged 24.5 points per game and gained 1,239 yards on the ground during the season and 1,896 through the air.

The Bulldogs allowed 16.9 points per game. Bowie State ran 650 plays last year while opponents ran just four more than that.

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