RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – When the Fayetteville State Broncos take the field against the St. Augustine’s Falcons Saturday, it will be more like a reunion than a football game. The Falcons have four former players and two former assistant coaches on staff from the Broncos 2019 team — one of them being current Falcons head coach David Bowser.
Before coming to St. Aug’s to rebuild the Falcons, Bowser was an assistant with Fayetteville for two decades. He was a key factor in building the program into a perennial power. Now he must face the monster he helped create.
“The first thing that’s going be awkward, and I hope I don’t do is after we run out on the field and I see Fayetteville over there, that I don’t accidentally run to the visitor side,” Bowser said with a laugh. “The biggest thing is going to be when you look over there and see guys that you’ve helped recruit five years ago. It’s beautiful to see them from afar as they have matured and grown but you’re going to see it up close.”
His former team comes in rolling. The Broncos are 5-1 and 4-0 in conference play. They’re the favorites to win the division again. The Falcons are 0-5 as Bowser looks to set up a foundation for his new program to build off — something current Broncos head coach Richard Hayes Jr. knows all about and sympathizes with.
“Five or six years ago, I was right there where he is right now trying to develop a program with a bunch of young freshmen,” Hayes said. “It’s very frustrating and sometimes it makes you feel like you are the worst coach in the world.”
It’s a tight-knit group, this coaching fraternity. The pair might be at different schools, but the support for each other never stopped. Sure, they’re competitors, but they’re also friends and you look out for friends.
The last time these two schools faced each other, St. Aug’s came away with a 23-21 win. The old saying still holds true about any given game day, but this weekend Vegas has the Broncos coming out on top. The game this weekend is really a look at potential and reality. The Broncos football program, being a perennial contender and a favorite each week, is the reality. The potential is what Bowser is just starting to build St. Aug’s.
“The blueprint was laid out when I worked with Coach Hayes and he was committed to bringing in quality high school athletes to come in and help rebuild a program down in Fayetteville,” Bowser said. “That blueprint worked because for three straight years those young men were the southern division champion and went to the championship game. What I want these guys to understand is that if we stay the course, we have the opportunity to build something just like what they’ve built out at Fayetteville.”
The two still talk on the phone a couple of times a week. Conversations range from recent games to recruiting news and family. But maybe not this week. After all, they are playing against each other.
“I am really pleased he got a chance to be a head coach, but Saturday it’s not going to be that friendly. He knows that and I know that” Hayes said. “At the end of the day, that’s a good friend of mine but football is what we do, and we are in competition on Saturday.”
The friendship will get put on pause Saturday at 1 p.m. for about three and half hours.