WELLSBURG - Morgantown coach John Bowers knows a little about winning, both as a player at Brooke High School in the early 1990s and as the veteran boss of the ultra-successful Mohigans.
Friday night he gets the opportunity to travel back to his old stomping grounds, Brooke Memorial Stadium, for a battle with his alma mater and the Bruins' first-year coach, Mac McLean.
McLean, by the way is more than familiar with Bowers. Just a couple of years younger, he not only played football with his coaching counterpart, but was friends with him as well.
"I am very familiar with Coach Bowers," McLean said. "I am a couple of years younger than he is, but we grew up on the same road and our mothers worked together."
But make no mistakes about it, McLean is out for one thing Friday night and that is his team's first victory of the season and his first as a head coach. That victory was taken away from him last week on a fourth-quarter Indian Creek touchdown that resulted in a 9-8 setback.
While that was going on, Morgantown was busy pounding Anacostia, D.C., by a 41-0 margin.
While Brooke has plenty of experience on offense, and plenty of skill-position players capable of making big plays, the Bruins were limited to 57 yards rushing and 58 yards passing.
For that to turn around McLean is going to need his leader, quarterback Aaron Walker, to step to the forefront and give the offense a much-needed push. Justin Loughrie, who did finished with 80 rushing yards, is a nice weapon while Thomas Cole is a dangerous receiver. Loughrie also caught two passes for 43 yards and the only Bruins' touchdown last week.
The Brooke defense did its part, limiting Indian Creek to 220 yards and the one last score, but a bad snap on a punt that went out of the end zone in the first quarter proved very costly.
"Obviously their offense starts with Walker, who does a real nice job of running things," Bowers said. "And Loughrie is a nice runner coming from behind a big offensive line.
"They also have a couple of tall, talented wide receivers that can hurt you. So yes, they are a very tough team and their option attack can be very problematic.
"It is also basically the same group of kids on defense, and you can really tell that they like to hit the weight room."
Bowers was very happy with the opening-game victory, but even more satisfied with how it came about.
"More than anything it is what I saw on the film," Bowers added. "Last year we were a team that wasn't always doing what we were coached. There were some errors in that opener last week, but the effort was outstanding and these kids did absolutely everything the coaches asked of them.
"These are some tough-minded kids that play the scheme and accept the coaching, and when you get kids like that you can put a very dangerous football team out on the field."
With Kennedy Award winner Chazzy Thomas lost to graduation, junior Dashon Thomas, who was a big lift to the Mohigans late last season when Chazzy was injured, has taken the reins.
And there is plenty of help with sophomore Maverick Wolfley, who has already committed to play at West Virginia University, along with seniors Daniel McAllister, Mikhail Lewis and Shea Campbell.
Second-year quarterback Ethan Goldcamp leads the offense and has a corp of competent receivers, including senior tight end Stone Wolfley, who like his younger brother has been a Mountaineer recruit for the past three seasons.
"As usual they are a physically impressive team that has played a lot of second- season football over the years," McLean said. "They are very familiar with success."
"I am proud of the defensive effort our kids gave last week, and while the defense appears to be ahead of the offense, I think the mistakes that we made are all very correctable. We had too many mental things, and you are not going to be successful while shooting yourself in the foot.
"It is a big game, but we are approaching things this year like every game is a big game. We want to win this game just like we want to win all of them. We won't do anything different just because it's Morgantown, we have to go out and do what we do and make things happen."
To get a victory Friday night the Bruins are going to have to snap a four-game losing streak to the Mohigans in which they have been outscored by a whopping 163-68 margin. The Bruins' last victory in the series was a 27-20 verdict in 2009.