“It’s awesome. It’s something I can’t explain,” said Pleasant Grove lineman Drake Fowler said through a wide grin, moments after Pleasant Grove polished off Graham, 45-14, to win a berth in the state championship game.
“We’ve been working for this since seventh grade.”
That hard work paid off in many ways: a 16-0 state championship season and for Fowler, a scholarship to Arkansas Tech.
Dominance in the line was a critical component of Pleasant Grove’s championship season. Time and again, opposing coaches’ post-game critique included a tip of the hat to a crew of seniors who played together since youth ball.
Fowler was, literally, in the middle of that. At 6-foot-6, 310 lbs., Fowler, who played tackle on offense and nose guard on defense, was the biggest of the bunch. He is the son of Bill and Lou Fowler.
When he wasn’t opening holes for PG’s potent running game, or protecting quarterback Ben Harmon, who threw for 2,038 yards and 28 passes, Fowler was giving the other offense headaches.
In a 33-14 beatdown of Celina, the team that knocked Pleasant Grove from the playoffs a year earlier, Fowler, Nick Gavriel, and Austin Toler smothered the Celina running game, holding the Bobcats to just 53 yards on 26 carries.
He confessed to enjoying the defensive side a little more. “My job is to destroy the center every play,” Fowler said with a sly grin.
A unanimous first-team, all-district defensive lineman, Fowler finished the season with 54 tackles, including three sacks and two tackles for losses.
“For his size, Drake is extremely athletic. He’ll be a force at the next level,” Coach Josh Gibson said. “He helped keep us loose. Everybody on the team laughed at what he said and did.”