Bowen Takes a Break to Sign With Hofstra

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Stephen Bowen Jr. certainly has the credentials of a top athlete. The Half

Hollow Hills West senior is a standout on the football field and the basketball

court.

But in his Dix Hills household, bragging rights are tough to come by. Not

only were his parents once athletes at Roosevelt, twin sisters Nichole and

Nyesha are budding stars, too.

In fact, Nichole, a 5-3 junior, is an outside hitter on the girls

volleyball team. Hills West won its second straight Suffolk Class B volleyball

title this fall, and in 2000 became the first Suffolk program to win a state

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title in the sport.

"They were state champions," Stephen Bowen said. "I thought it was great

they got a chance to play for a state title and win."

Bowen paused a moment, then added, "But I'm still the best athlete."

This week is a big one for Bowen. The 6-5, 245-pound Bowen plans to sign a

national letter of intent today with Hofstra to play football. It's the

culmination of a lifelong dream.

He won't have long to enjoy the moment, however. The Hills West boys

basketball team is in the midst of a desperate playoff push for a spot in the

Suffolk Class B bracket. Bowen, the team's center and leader with 19-point and

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12-rebound averages, will lead Hills West against Huntington in a crucial

League IV basketball game Friday.

Pressure moments and dire straights are nothing new to Bowen. Just look at

his contributions last fall. The Hills West football season was on the brink

with two games remaining in the regular season. The team was 3-3 and had lost

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its top offensive threat in fullback Connor Hagans.

Bowen switched from tight end to fullback and Hills West won its final two

games to make the Suffolk Division III playoffs. Bowen, a pure athlete who

thrived all season on defense at middle linebacker, ran for 120 yards and two

touchdowns in the semifinals, where the Colts fell to Huntington, 34-27.

"I compare him to someone like Melvin Fowler [a 1997 graduate who played

center for Maryland this season]," Hills West football coach Kyle Madden said.

"Melvin is someone who is going to get drafted into the NFL. That's the path

Stephen may have coming out of here. Stephen is someone you design your defense

around."

While Bowen was a productive player on offense - he had nine touchdowns -

he was a force at linebacker, where he tallied 97 tackles. Bowen, who was also

recruited heavily by another Division I-AA power in Villanova, said he chose

Hofstra after visiting the campus in December. Hofstra coaches envision him as

a defensive end in college.

"He definitely came into his own this year," Madden said. "And he's going

to have a great career at Hofstra. He started to learn how to win, and he's

going to take the next step at Hofstra."

Bowen is one of several Long Island football players who will take the next

step in their careers by signing today. All-Long Island tackles Chris Auletta

and D'Brickashaw Ferguson head a talented class. Auletta, who won a CHSFL Class

AAA title with St. Anthony's, is headed to Penn State. Thorp Award winner

Ferguson took Freeport to the Nassau Conference I playoffs before committing to

Virginia.

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