Union's all-everything is just about everywhere

Cowan does whatever is needed for Titans to win

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 

Being able to do a little bit of everything is one thing. Being able to excel at a little bit of everything is another.

The football coaches of the Class 4A Greater St. Helens have spoken. Trent Cowan excels at a lot of things.

Cowan, a senior for the Union Titans, was named first-team all-league at three positions: wide receiver, defensive back, and punter.

"It's a great honor, the coaches thinking you are one of the best players in the league," Cowan said. "My main focus, though, is winning football games and helping my team win."

Which means doing anything he is asked.

Last week, in addition to his duties as a receiver (seven catches, 106 yards, TD), a safety (three interceptions), and the punter, he also was the team's leading rusher as the quarterback in the Wildcat offense. Oh, and he kicked field goal, too.

Union defeated Graham-Kapowsin 39-22, advancing to the Class 4A state playoffs. The Titans will take on Gonzaga Prep — possibly in the snow — at 1 p.m. Saturday in Spokane.

Cowan's punting skills landed him a scholarship offer to Idaho last spring. Trent's brother Bobby is an All-America punter for the Vandals, now in his final season with the program.

Since that offer, Idaho has upped the stakes. Now, the Vandals want Trent, a 6-foot-3 talent, at wide receiver or safety.

"I want to play a position. I like punting, but I like the ball in my hands, to be honest with you," he said. "But if I could only punt, I'd do that, too. I just love the game of football."

Cowan said he is hopeful for more offers in the coming months before he makes a final decision. He and his college coaches will then have to figure out a place for him.

For now, Union cannot afford to allow Cowan to specialize in anything. He is needed where is he: just about everywhere.

Cowan does take a breather when Union scores a touchdown. Mitch Wheelon handles the point-after kicks for the Titans. Cowan also gets a rest on kick returns. Other than that, he is on the field.

"I started both sides of the field last year. This is nothing new. I kind of expected it," he said. "I'd rather be on the field than on the sidelines."

It is more than just filling a spot on the field, though. Cowan has turned from good high school player to go-to player in one year.

He is quarterback Nolan Henry's top target, with 47 receptions for more than 700 yards. The Titans do not overuse the Wildcat, but when Cowan is back there, he is averaging better than 9 yards per carry.

On defense, he seems to be making all the right breaks, finding the ball.

Of course, the coaches do not have to worry about their punter, either.

"Last year I played all three, but this year, I knew I was going to need to excel in all three," Cowan said. "I took it upon myself that I needed to improve in all three aspects to have a good senior season and help us win games."

The Titans have won their share — they are 7-3 — however, they are not accustomed to finishing third in the league. Camas and Skyview topped Union in the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League.

In those two league losses, as well as the non-league loss, the Union offense struggled. There was some concern going into the playoffs. Cowan, though, said the message got through to the team.

"If you go back to the Jesuit game (Week 2), we played a really bad first half. At halftime, the coaches said, in the second half, you can either get killed by 70 or make a comeback and fight," Cowan recalled.

The Titans did not win, but fared better in the second half.

In the Skyview loss, Union was in the game in first half, then failed to do much in the second.

The coaches reminded the players of what was at stake in the playoffs.

"Either fight, or call it a season," Cowan said. "We responded well. We had a good week of preparation in practice, and we took it to them."

Now the Titans are taking their game to Spokane. Trent Cowan will be there with them, on the field just about every play.