North Kitsap senior Colton Bower has already committed to playing baseball, and possibly football, at Washington State University next year, but he still has a goal in mind to top it off. his signature career – a state high school baseball championship.
After a third-place state basketball finish and a historic run to the football state semifinals, Bower hopes to make another deep run with the baseball team before graduating and heading to Pullman.
Bower said the team’s defense is playing well, but they’ll need to hit better to win the state crown. “We haven’t put it all together and got a good momentum in the games yet. Once we all start hitting a bit more and continue to be 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 was also considering joining the football team, but wanted to wait and see if another football offer came to him from another school.
“I’ve also been open to talking to colleges for football,” Bower, a standout quarterback, said. “I’m happy to go to WSU and play baseball and maybe try to play football as well.”
Jeff Weible, who coaches NK football and baseball, said if a Division 1 school had offered Bower a scholarship to play football, he probably would have taken it. He also said that many D-1 teams probably gave up on recruiting him for football because he signed to WSU early on for baseball.
“He definitely has the ability to play two sports in college,” Weible said. “It’s obviously very difficult at Division 1 level.”
The 6-foot, 195-pounder was a dominant dueling quarterback for the Vikings the past three seasons, while playing safety on defense. This year, he broke Jared Prince’s school record for passing yards in a season, finishing the year with 2,669. He also threw for 66 career touchdowns and rushed for 27, while throwing only a handful of interceptions. On defense, he recorded 280 career tackles and 23 interceptions, five of which he ran for scores.
“I like running but I also like throwing,” Bower said. “I’m a scrappy guy who will fight for every yard I can. I’m not really out of bounds or slipping. I play without any fear. I try to get quarterbacks to throw things they shouldn’t be trying to get picks.
Bower made college his freshman year, playing tight end and linebacker. His second season became the starting QB, and he never looked back, starting every game throughout his senior season.
“I definitely learned and matured a lot,” Bower said of his first season. “All those guys were way taller and bigger than me. It doesn’t matter how big or tall you are, you can do it.
With a good game comes great responsibility, and Bower knows that, but he’s more of a quiet, humble kid. “I’ve always thought of myself as a leader, but I’ve never really been the most vocal leader,” he said. “I wouldn’t be someone who yells or yells at someone, but I’m always proud to lead by example. You never know who is watching.
Looking back on his storied career, his long senior season streak definitely stood out. “It was a historic race for our program. It was really cool to be part of it. I’m just making a bunch of bonds with my brothers, new friendships that will last a lifetime.
Weible said the semi-final against Lynden this year showed what kind of player Bower is and his determination.
“We didn’t really do much in the game offensively with such bad weather,” he recalled. “The last ride we had, he kind of took it upon himself to get us down onto the pitch. He converted many third downs with pure heart and courage. We finally scored to take the lead six minutes from time.
Weible also mentioned a playoff game a few years earlier against Fife where Bower had to kick the winning field goal from 39 yards since their kicker was not academically eligible. “It looked like he had been kicking all year,” the coach said. “He just does what needs to be done.”
Bower didn’t start playing football until college because his parents feared he would get injured at a young age, a decision they also made with his older brother Carson, who also played for NK.
“I just kept begging and begging,” Bower said. “I have loved football since I started playing it. I used to watch my brother play and I always played in the garden with him.
Bower started on the NK varsity baseball team since he was a freshman. Initially, he played shortstop and pitched, but by sophomore year he became the primary receiver. He said he topped out at 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 receiver, I just try to block everything I can,” he said. “I’m a guy that tries to get to the base, I don’t really hit a lot of home runs or try to hit home runs.”
Weible, a former NK wide receiver who was on the 1988 state championship team, praised Bower’s skills.
“He’s been phenomenal defensively,” Weible said. “We had a few scouts here…who came to watch him. They asked me about him and I told them I think he’s the best defensive receiver in the country. If there’s a kid who can block balls and receive like he does and throw like he does, I’d love to see him.
Bower’s first love was baseball when he started playing T-ball at age 4. He played in Little League and then on a few select teams, including the Bainbridge Mavericks when he was around 11 years old. That team also included Bainbridge High pitcher JR Ritchie, who is bound for UCLA. In recent years, Bower has performed with the Walla Walla Sweets.
“I’ve always had a passion for baseball,” he says. “I have always spent the most time practicing this sport. When I played on this team with JR and all the others, scouts were coming. They were just coming almost following us. I knew if they were interested now, I think I might have a good chance later down the road.
Going into high school, Bower knew that NK athletics was at a very high level and that he had to be prepared to work hard and improve in any sport he played. Having his brother and some of the older children around helped him get to grips with the expectations.
“North has always had a reputation for being pretty much good at everything,” he said. “We always had to live up to that hype…When my brother was there, I was always training with them. I kind of got a feel for things earlier than a lot of kids have.
One person who really impacted 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 nonsense. He’s always someone I can go to at any time. I know he would always be there for me and would do whatever he could for me,” Bower said.
On the other hand, Weible described Bower as calm and confident and said he was “that kid that everyone wishes they had.” I’ve had the privilege of coaching many great kids, and he’s definitely 1A. Not just on the pitch, you never have to worry about him leveling up, you never have to worry about him doing something and getting in trouble at school.
“He is an excellent representative of our team in our community. All little kids know Colton Bower. I would rather call him generational, which means I don’t know if I’ll ever have another kid like him.