The Bowie High School football team made no secrets about its aspirations for this year.
“We’re looking to be one of the four teams in the playoffs,” Bowie coach Jae Jackson said before the season. “We’re not looking to be middle of the pack or anything like that. We’re looking to make a playoff run, and that’s our goal this year. Our schedule is set where, if we can do what we need to do in the first half of the season, then it’s a pretty good chance of making the playoffs.”
Bowie’s playoff chances took a big hit when it was forced to forfeit last Friday’s game against Charles H. Flowers.
Prince George’s Public Schools Athletic Director Earl Hawkins said the forfeit is due to the entire Bowie team being disqualified by the officials during a 20-13 loss to Westlake High School.
“When students are disqualified from a game, they cannot play in the next game,” Hawkins said.
That dropped Bowie to 0-2, and the Bulldogs face another challenge against Suitland on Saturday. Hawkins said Jackson was suspended for one additional game, though Hawkins would not provide the reason. So, Bowie’s assistant coaches must run the team during this week’s game.
Bowie Athletic Director Jessica Brandt declined comment, but she did provide a letter sent to parents of football players and signed by Principal Dr. Drewana Bay. It read in part:
“It is of utmost importance that players do not ‘clear the bench’ in the event of an altercation on the field. All players must display restraint and remain on the sidelines in order to allow the coaches and game officials to handle the situation. Unfortunately, failure to do so in this instance, have caused dire consequences for the school, coaches, and more importantly, the players.
In addition, we ask that all parent assist in maintaining and/or restoring order during games by remaining in the stands. Parents and spectators are not permitted on the field during any contest. Failure to adhere to this procedure can result in the exclusion of parents and spectators from future contest.”
Bowie’s opening schedule already made a playoff run especially challenging. Bowie’s first six opponents are Westlake (which has made 10 straight playoff appearances, but also forfeited last Friday’s game), Flowers, Suitland, Henry A. Wise, Eleanor Roosevelt, and DuVal. All five of those Prince George’s County opponents are ranked in The Gazette’s top 10.
Not only did the forfeit cost Bowie a chance at a signature win in its bid to end a six-year postseason drought, it gave Flowers potentially crucial playoff points.
It’s certainly not impossible for Bowie to reach the playoffs — Eleanor Roosevelt is also 0-2 and in postseason contention — but there’s no question Bowie must climb out of a sizable hole to reach its preseason goal.