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Zog’s Blog: Bowen’s Night

Overshadowed by the fan incident that marred Monday night’s Bellport at Half Hollow Hills West boys basketball game was a moving halftime ceremony honoring Colts football star Stephen Bowen.

Bowen, an all-county football and basketball player at Hills West who graduated in 2002, had his football jersey No. 4 retired. "I joked with him that the last guy to wear No. 4 was kicker Nolan Gelman," said Hills West football coach Kyle Madden, who coached Bowen in his first two years on the job.

At 6-5, 306 pounds, Bowen is no kicker. He was 60 pounds lighter in high school, when he was a dominant fullback and middle linebacker. He went on to excel at Hofstra and now is a defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys for whom he has just completed his fourth NFL season. Bowen started two games in 2009, played in 16, and made 18 tackles with three sacks.

Madden arranged a surprise for Bowen on Monday night, bringing the player’s two assistant coaches from Hofstra to the ceremony. In Bowen’s speech, he thanked his high school teachers and high school and college coaches.

"He flourished at Hofstra. We always knew he’d have a shot at the NFL," Madden said. "I remember after the second day of the [NFL] draft, he gave me a call. He said, ‘Coach, I just got a call from Bill Parcells [then the Cowboys’ GM] and I got a free-agent contract!’ He worked his way up from the practice squad. And now he’s in the rotation."

Bowen had a surprise of his own for the Hills West football program, which won its first Long Island Championship in 2009. "He bought 66 jackets for the coaches, administration and all the players," Madden said. "He said it was for bragging rights. He kept saying to me, ‘When are you going to win one? I’ve got all these guys [Cowboys] bragging about their high school teams winning championships,’ " Madden said. "I told him, ‘We’re trying.’ When he heard we won, he told me he was buying the jackets."

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