About this time a year ago, wide receiver Eli Dowis and running back Tyler Houchin were gearing up for their senior season for the Maryville Spoofhounds.
Both had intentions of bringing home another state championship for the town of Maryville to repeat the 2017 state championship they led the Spoofhounds to.
Last November, Houchin announced his verbal commitment to the Bearcats via Twitter, getting an outpouring of support from the fans of Northwest Football. Houchin was another player to join the tradition of “Townie” football players, playing for the Bearcats.
Nearly a month later, Dowis announced his commitment via Twitter. Dowis joined a talented, athletic 2019 class with his Spoofhound teammate Houchin, two guys who have been friends ever since they could remember.
“Playing with an athlete like Eli in high school was great, and I am grateful we both got to go through this process together.” Houchin said.
Both players were two of the Spoofhounds’ top targets, helping lead them to four straight district championships, two state championship appearances and also earning themselves all-state honors.
Even with all of the accolades over their four years at Maryville High School, they knew the transition wouldn’t be any sort of walk in the park; it would be just the beginning of their time as Bearcats.
“In high school, you could get away with not going 100% every single rep or every single drill and there would be no consequence,” Dowis said. “In a lot of ways, it feels like a fresh start: new training, new plays, new teammates and in some ways, a new work ethic.”
Dowis and Houchin helped the Spoofhounds collect a remarkable 51-6 record in the four-year span of being a part of the team, and commented that the Spoofhounds are more similar to the Bearcats than different.
“The fanbase and supporters in Maryville are second to none,” Houchin said. “We have the whole town behind all of us players on the team, and being from Maryville makes it even more special when we get to play for our hometown.”
The amount of support from the town of Maryville is no secret. Northwest was ranked in the top 10 in the official NCAA Division II football attendance stats last season, averaging 7,727 fans per home game last season.
Houchin found that many players at Northwest are willing to extend a hand to newer players such as himself. He said a player he has learned a lot from just from practice has been Marqus Andrews.
“Marqus is a player who knows the system very well and helps me with film, what steps to use, and what to do in order to be successful in the future,” Houchin said.
The transition from high school to the collegiate level hasn’t been much of an issue for Dowis and Houchin, as they both have been living just off campus their whole lives.
Dowis made it clear that his No. 1 priority will be school.
"First and foremost is getting a college degree; I would love to play past college, but I know it doesn’t always work out that way,” Dowis said.
Dowis and Houchin seem to have some confidence, accompanied with goals in mind, going into each of their similar yet different college careers. While the future is to be determined for each of them, the townies both know they have the city of Maryville behind them the whole way.