Wayde Bowman is a 17-year-old Redington High School senior with dreams of playing college football next season.
He plays for a small school in a small state where exposure is tough to come by, and he’s smart enough -- 4.4 GPA smart -- to know he needs to do the work to grab the attention of college coaches.
“Really, just pushing out film on Twitter and social media. You’ve gotta showcase yourself, like you’re marketing yourself,” Bowman said Thursday before joining his team for practice. “You’ve gotta show all these coaches and scouts what you’re capable of doing.”
Bowman’s public-relations campaign got a huge boost last weekend.
The 6-foot-4, 195-pound quarterback had a career day in a 68-14 Mid-Alaska Conference victory over Kenai Central, putting up numbers in a single game that some guys would be happy to log in an entire season.
According to statistics recorded by the school, Bowman completed 26 of 34 passes, racked up 511 passing yards and threw for eight touchdowns.
“Afterwards I was little surprised,” he said. “During the game I didn’t notice (the numbers) at all, I was just playing in the heat of the moment.”
Film clips and stat totals from that game will look good on social media, but they don’t hint at the humility behind them.
“Some of the touchdowns were to my running back Jaden Spaulding, just 5-yard passes that ended up being 80-yard gains,” Bowman said. “Everybody had a part in it.”
Four different players were on the receiving end of touchdown passes. Bowman’s longest TD was 84 yards to Spaulding on a run-and-catch play. The TD pass that traveled the farthest was a 55-yard heave to younger brother Trevor Bowman, who caught what Bowman said was his longest pass of the day.
“I want to say he’s my favorite target,” Bowman said of his brother, “but I try to spread out the love.”
Going into a Friday night game against Nikiski, the Huskies are 4-0 and Bowman has an assortment of crazy numbers: 1,215 passing yards with 16 touchdowns, three interceptions and a 73.6% completion rate, according to the school’s statistics. He’s also rushed for three touchdowns and 94 yards.
Record-keeping in Alaska high school sports is spotty, but it appears Bowman is the third quarterback in history to pass for more than 500 yards in a game.
In 1996, Soldotna quarterback Mark Wackler passed for 565 yards on 30-of-47 passing in a 52-28 loss to the Colony Knights.
In 2012, Colony quarterback Rob Lorentz threw for 529 yards on 41-of-54 passing in a 48-42 loss to North Pole.
Wackler’s record came in a game that produced an astonishing 1,156 yards of total offense between the two teams. Wackler set the unofficial state record for single-game passing, and Colony running back Dallas Elmore set the unofficial state record for single-game rushing with 358 yards (a mark surpassed a couple of times since, including in 2014 when Eielson’s Anthony Griffith rushed for 516 yards against Nikiski).
This is Bowman’s third season as Redington’s quarterback. The first two were cut short by injury.
As a sophomore, he helped his team get off to a 4-0 start before breaking his collarbone; the Huskies finished the season 4-3. As a junior, he tore an ACL in the first game of a 1-1 season shortened by COVID-19.
Coached by Mathias Weinberger, the Huskies are one of three undefeated teams as Alaska football heads into Week 6 (Eagle River is 4-0 and North Pole is 2-0). They’re on course for their best season ever, something Bowman credits to offseason work that not only sharpened skills but tightened the bond between players.
“We’re all really close so we get together a lot. Having a brotherhood like that, I think that’s really been the thing,” he said. “I think that’s why we’re doing so well.”
Redington High School opened in the 2015-16 school year and played JV football during that first year, going 0-4. The Huskies were 4-12 in their first two seasons of varsity football and slipped to 1-7 during Bowman’s freshman year, when he was a wide receiver.
Coming into this season, players got together frequently to run routes, lift weights and sometimes just to hang out.
“The change was we were tired of losing, of being this new school that’s not able to win, and realizing that ... when we put our minds to it, we can do anything,” Bowman said.