They have forearms that could double as boa constrictors, tree-trunk sturdy legs to uproot any would-be tackler and a steely resolve that’s apparent in their eyes and actions.
Jordan Gowins and Naim Jones are two big reasons why St. Anthony’s football is the top seed in the CHSFL once again and the offense will run from a new base formation for the first time in a generation.
Gone is the triple-option attack, replaced by a hurry-up spread offense designed with the hard-running duo in mind.
“The offensive switch means more ways for Jordan and me to get the ball,” said Jones, a 5-foot-11, 195-pound senior from Coram who blossomed once he spent time in the backfield a year ago.
Jones rushed for 539 yards on 66 carries – good for 8.2 yards per carry – and scored 4 touchdowns in 10 games. He also added 119 yards receiving. Jones, a converted quarterback, has only gotten bigger and stronger this off-season.
“This is good for him,” St. Anthony’s Coach Rich Reichert said. “He fits in this system. [We want to] get him in space.”
Gowins carries a running pedigree with him. Older brother Ed Gowins won a Long Island championship at Bellport before starring at Stony Brook.
Now it’s time for the 5-foot-11, 206-pound Jordan Gowins to shine. His sophomore season was marked by injury and yet he finished with 443 yards on 62 carries and 10 rushing TDs.
Much of those carries came in the opening three weeks, highlighted by a 124-yard, 2-TD performance against New Jersey power Bergen Catholic.
“It felt good to be back,” Gowins, now a junior, said of the new season. “I’ve been waiting for this day a long time. This is a redemption season.”
The Friars may have had the best collection of backfield talent on Long Island last season. Too bad St. Anthony’s rarely put all its chips on the field at once. Injuries conspired to limit the offense’s potential.
The result: An 8-3 season and 17-16 loss to rival Chaminade in the CHSFL Class AAA championship game.
Running back Anthony Anderson graduated and another talented back, Brendan Femiano, transferred. But Gowins and Jones – along with senior quarterback Greg Galligan – are equal to the task.
The Friars open on the road Sept. 7 against St. Joseph’s Collegiate in Buffalo.
“I think we’re going to be great this year,” Jones predicted. “Teams won’t be able to respond as fast. It’s going to be quick, quick, quick. We’ll run 10 more plays a game. That’s great.”