ScuttleBu(r)t … 40 for 40: Flivver football standout Eric Rowney gave his all
Chris Hofer, in his 30 years as Kingsford High School’s head football coach, sat down after every game to watch the tape and compile team statistics.
One department was defensive points where Hofer’s system credited tackles, fumble recoveries, interceptions and other areas.
If a Flivver defensive player cracked 20 points in a game, that was pretty darn good. Eric Rowney, a stellar linebacker from the 1997 season, went off the charts.
In the Flivvers’ 41-28 win over rival Iron Mountain, Eric had 36 points with 21 tackles (10 unassisted).
Kingsford, with just one loss in the 1997 regular season to Menominee, headed to the Maroons’ Walton Blesch Field for the postseason. Eric thought he could top his all-over-the-field Iron Mountain performance.
“The night before we played Menominee in the district playoffs, Eric told me he would get 40 defensive points in that game,” said Jim Allen, like Eric a Flivver co-captain and 1998 KHS graduate. “Those people somewhat familiar with Chris Hofer’s defensive point system understand that getting 40 points is almost impossible.
“Well, we lost the game 20-0 but Eric did indeed get the 40 defensive points. That’s the type of player and person he was.”
Eric’s sideline-to-sideline effort produced those 40 points on 24 tackles with 10 unassisted – all Flivver standards to that point in Hofer’s coaching career. He finished the season with 204 points and 114 tackles.
“Eric Rowney is one of the best players that I ever coached,” Hofer said. “He could do it all.”
For the 1997 season, Eric shared the Great Northern Conference Defensive Player of the Year award and also earned All-UP.
His offensive accomplishments stood out as well. The All-GNC running back rushed for 800 yards and scored 14 touchdowns that season. Those at the Wayzata, Minn., game remember Eric dragging a defender five yards to cap a 75-yard scoring run.
“Look for number 40,” said Allen in passing along links to Flivver games. “He’s not hard to find. It will give you an idea and reminder of what kind of player Eric was.”
For his Flivver career, Eric had 309 points with 172 tackles (66 unassisted). He received a football scholarship to Michigan Tech.
Cancer, according to Allen, hit Eric about seven years ago. Treatment worked until the disease returned a couple years ago.
Allen wanted to let people know that his “Forever Teammate” went after cancer like he did against football foes.
“Eric was the All-American kid, great athlete, smart, fun to be around,” Allen said. “I want people to know that he lived his life and battled cancer the same way he played the game.
“When it was time to buckle up the chin strap, look out because Eric is going to give it 100 percent.”
Eric Rowney died late last month. A celebration of life for the Flivver great will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at Balsam Street Christian Church in Kingsford.