Livingston Paogofie wasn’t going to let his last chance at playoff success slip away.
Bowie trailed Keller Central 17-13 in the fourth quarter of the Vols’ 6A Division I bi-district playoff game against Keller Central. But the senior defensive tackle was determined not to let Bowie lose.
“The last three years being knocked out in the first round, that motivated us to win our first playoff game last week,” Paogofie said. “I told myself during the game when we were down 17-13, ‘We’re not going home.’ That motivated me to go out and try to make plays for my teammates.”
That extra bit of motivation must have worked. The Vols (9-2) pulled out a 20-17 victory, Bowie’s first playoff win under coach Danny DeArman. Bowie, which has made a habit of winning close games, faced Midland in the area round Saturday in Abilene.
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“Every single game has been that way,” DeArman said. “We’re not new to playing in a close game or having to come back in a close game.”
Playing well in the clutch has defined Bowie’s season. In the opener, the Vols had to make a critical goal-line stand to fend off Flower Mound Marcus, 40-39. A come-from-behind 35-30 victory against North Mesquite required the Vols to shut out their opponent in the second half.
“I feel what’s made us so resilient is the family aspect of it,” senior linebacker Surprise Gilman said. “We’ve been very close. Pretty much, we all look up to each other. We hold each other accountable. We’re like a true family.”
The Bowie family’s biggest comeback came in a 4-6A game against rival Lamar. The Vols fell behind 24-0 in the first half but rallied for 26 second-half points to win 26-24.
“We’ve shown we’re a second-half ball team,” DeArman said. “If we’re close at halftime, there’s a good chance we’re going to win that ballgame. I guess 24’s still close. I don’t think there’s a kid on this team who isn’t mentally tough.”
Paogofie and Gilman cherished earning their first-ever playoff victory. “It felt amazing,” Gilman said. “It’s been a while since we have [won a playoff game]. So, it felt pretty phenomenal.”
But the seniors didn’t plan on ending their postseason run anytime soon. They headed into the Midland game confident that the Vols would earn the victory if everybody focused on doing his part.
“Midland’s a pretty good team. That doesn’t faze us,” Paogofie said. “We just go out there and try to do our job.”
An area round victory would mean playing a game on Thanksgiving week. And DeArman has fond memories of past seasons when the Vols practiced on Thanksgiving during a deep playoff run. As defensive coordinator in 2007, DeArman cooked a deep-fried turkey on Thanksgiving for the Bowie players and coaches. A win against Midland would mean deep-fried turkey for Paogofie, Gilman and the rest of the Bowie football family.
“It’s one of the greatest things about the playoffs, getting to practice on Thanksgiving,” DeArman said.
Despite the Thanksgiving holiday, there’s still a chance to catch some high school basketball this week as Bowie will host Crowley at 2 p.m. on Friday. The Vols have been consistently ranked among the top 15 or 20 team in the state in various rankings polls and are coming off a 2015-2016 season that saw them reach the area round of the playoffs.
Regular non-district action resumes on Nov. 29, as Arlington hosts Fort Worth Eastern Hills at 6 p.m., Seguin hosts Bowie at 7:30 p.m., Lamar hosts Hurst L.D. Bell at 7:30 p.m. and Martin hosts Grand Prairie at 7:30 p.m.
The girls squads are edging closer to their district openers, particularly Seguin, which starts playing games that affect the standings on Dec. 6. Before that, the Lady Cougars will take the holiday week off before hosting Arlington at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 29.
The same day, Martin hosts Weatherford at 7:30 p.m.
Stephen English: email@example.com, @sbenglish74