At a time of year when the circumstances of a star in the East are celebrated, a running back from Triton rose to the occasion in the East-West All-Star football game on Saturday at Jamieson Stadium in Greensboro.
Javon “J.J.” Cowan went for 159 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-7 East triumph. He was named the Offensive MVP, joining some select company in Hawks history.
Triton coach Ben Penny noted that Clayton White was overall MVP in 1996 and Tory Thurmond of the Hawks was Defensive MVP in 2004.
It was the 76th annual contest sponsored by the North Carolina Coaches Association. The event, which has traditionally followed matchups in soccer and basketball in July, was played in December for the first time to allow more top players to participate.
Cowan was a late addition to the East team coached by Bill Sochovka of Pine Forest. He had a legitimate resume with 1,268 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior, helping the Hawks to a 6-5 record with a playoff berth.
Cowan ran 19 times for 100 yards in a playoff contest at rugged Seventy-First, the eventual 3-A East regional champion.
Cowan and the East All-Stars put a redeeming light on the region after East teams were swept in all four state championships in Chapel Hill and Raleigh last week.
“Great,” said Sochovka when told it was the largest margin of victory ever for the East.
Cowan ran 67 yards for a touchdown and a 28-7 lead with 2:27 left in the third quarter. His 48-yard scoring run came with 1:58 remaining.
“It is great,” Penny said. “J.J. is such a good kid. Very emotional day. Very proud.”
The East pulled away from a tie at 7. Linebacker Landon Sargent of Cape Fear High School in Cumberland County was Defensive MVP as the West was limited to 21 rushing yards. The East had a 514-159 command in total yards.
Cowan has carried on a family tradition at Triton. Older brothers, Ro’mello and Jerrell, also were standouts for the Hawks.
The game had originally been scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m., but was moved to Saturday at 1 p.m. because of rain in the forecast.
Cowan (5-11, 190) may be playing on more Saturdays. Penny said Barton and Catawba are presently the leaders among those in the recruiting picture. The exposure from the all-star experience could expand his opportunities.
Cowan took a respite from basketball for the all-star game. He is averaging 6.5 points for the Hawks (6-1).