NK standout Bower strives for state baseball title before heading to WSU

He’s committed to play baseball for the Cougs; might play football too

North Kitsap senior Colton Bower has already committed to playing baseball, and possibly football, at Washington State University next year, but he still has one goal in mind to cap off his iconic career — a state high school baseball championship.

Coming off a third-place state finish in basketball and a historic run to the state semifinals in football, Bower is hoping to make another deep run with the baseball team before he graduates and heads to Pullman.

Bower said the team’s defense is playing well, but it will need to hit better to win the state crown. “We’ve yet to kind of piece everything together and get good momentum going during games. Once we all start hitting a little bit more, and we keep fielding good like we have been, I think we can be really good and a dominant team.”

Bower, a catcher, received a baseball scholarship from WSU in the summer of 2020. He said he’s also considering walking on to the football team, but wants to wait and see if another football offer comes his way from a different school.

“I’ve kind of been open to talking to colleges for football as well,” said Bower, a standout quarterback. “I’m happy with going to WSU and playing baseball and maybe trying to play football as well.”

Jeff Weible, who coaches NK in both football and baseball, said that if a Division 1 school had offered Bower a scholarship to play football, he probably would’ve taken it. He also said many D-1 teams probably backed off recruiting him for football because he had committed early to WSU for baseball.

“He certainly has the capability of playing two sports in college,” Weible said. “It’s very tough obviously at the Division 1 level.”

Football star

The 6-foot, 195-pounder was a dominant duel-threat quarterback for the Vikings the past three seasons, while also playing safety on defense. This year, he broke Jared Prince’s school record for single-season passing yards, ending the year with 2,669. He also threw for 66 career touchdowns and ran for 27, while only throwing a handful of interceptions. On defense, he recorded 280 career tackles and 23 interceptions, five of which he ran back for scores.

“I like to run but I also like to throw it,” Bower said. “I’m a scrappy guy who will fight for every yard I can. I don’t really run out of bounds or slide. I play without any fear. I try to bait quarterbacks into throwing things they shouldn’t to try and get picks.”

Bower made varsity his freshman year, playing tight end and linebacker. His sophomore season is when became the starting QB, and he never looked back, starting every game through his senior season.

“I definitely learned a lot and matured,” Bower said of his freshman season. “All these guys were way taller and bigger than I was. It doesn’t matter how big or tall you are, you can do it.”

With great play, comes great responsibility, and Bower is aware of that, but he’s more of a quiet and humble kid. “I always considered myself a leader but I was never really the most vocal leader,” he said. “I wouldn’t be someone who screams or shouts at somebody but I always take pride in leading by example. You never know who’s watching.”

Looking back on his legendary career, the stretch run of his senior season definitely stood out. “That was a historic run for our program. That was really cool to be a part of. Just creating a bunch of bonds with my brothers, new friendships that will last a lifetime.”

Weible said the semifinal game against Lynden this year showed what kind of player Bower is and the determination he has.

“We hadn’t really done a whole lot in the game offensively with the weather was so bad,” he recalled. “The last drive we had, he kind of took it upon himself to will us down the field. He converted many third downs with pure heart and grit. We eventually scored to take the lead with six minutes to go.”

Weible also mentioned a playoff game a few years earlier against Fife where Bower had to kick the game-winning 39-yard field goal since their kicker was academically ineligible. “It looked like he’d been kicking all year long,” the coach said. “He just does what needs to be done.”

Bower didn’t start playing football until middle school as his parents were worried about him getting injured at a young age, a decision they made with his older brother Carson as well, who also played for NK.

“I just kept begging and begging,” Bower said. “I’ve loved football since the moment I started playing it. I’d watch my brother play and always be out in the backyard playing with him.”

Baseball star

Bower has started on NK’s varsity baseball team since he was a freshman. Initially, he played shortstop and pitched but by sophomore year he became the primary catcher. He said he tops out throwing around 87 miles per hour. Offensively, making good contact and getting on base is more important than being a power hitter and trying to hit home runs.

“As a catcher, I’m just trying to block everything I can,” he said. “I’m a guy who tries to get on base, I don’t really hit very many home runs or try to hit home runs.”

Weible, a former NK catcher who was on the 1988 state championship team, raved about Bower’s skills.

“He’s been phenomenal defensively,” Weible said. “We had a couple scouts here…that came to watch him. They asked me about him, and I told them I think he’s the best defensive catcher in the country. If there’s a kid that can block balls and receive the way he does and throw the way he does, I’d like to see him.”

Bower’s first love was baseball as he started playing T-ball at age 4. He played Little League and then for a few select teams, including the Bainbridge Mavericks when he was about age 11. That team also featured Bainbridge High pitcher J.R. Ritchie, who is bound for UCLA. The last few years, Bower has played with the Walla Walla Sweets.

“I’ve always had a passion for baseball,” he said. “I’ve always spent the most time playing that sport. When I played on that team with J.R. and all of them, scouts were coming. They would just come and follow us almost. I knew if they were interested now then I think I might have a good shot later down the road.”

Going into high school, Bower knew that NK athletics had a very high standard and that he had to be ready to work hard and get better in every sport he played. Being around his brother and some of the older kids helped him get familiar with the expectations.

“North has always had that reputation of pretty much being good at everything,” he said. “We always had to live up to that hype…When my brother was there, I was always around practicing with them. I kind of got a feel for things earlier than a lot of kids did.”

One person who really had an impact on Bower is Weible.

“I’m around him pretty much every day of the year. I love him as a coach, I love him as a person. We talk about everything, life or stupid stuff. He’s always someone I can go to at any time. I know he’d always be there for me and do anything he could for me,” Bower said.

On the flip side, Weible described Bower as quiet and confident and said he’s “that kid everybody wishes they had. I’ve had the privilege of coaching a lot of great kids, and he’s 1A for sure. Not just on the field, you never have to worry about him grade-wise, you never have to worry about him doing something and getting in trouble at school.

“He’s a great representative of our team to our community. All the little kids know Colton Bower. I’d call him kind of generational, meaning I don’t know if I’ll ever get another kid like him.”

Viking quarterback Colton Bower also may try and walk-on the WSU football team. File Photo