Bothell’s bond goes deep with friends’ fun-fueled passing attack
Quarterback Ross Bowers and receiver Dayzell Wilson’s close friendship and good humor have pushed Bothell to the Class 4A state championship football game Saturday in Tacoma. The Cougars face defending state champ Chiawana of Pasco at 7:30 p.m.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Friday at Tacoma Dome
2B: Napavine vs. Okanogan, 4 p.m.
3A: Bellevue vs. Eastside Catholic, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday at Tacoma Dome
1A: Cascade Christian vs. Colville, 10 a.m.
2A: Sedro-Woolley vs. Lynden, 1 p.m.
1B: Neah Bay vs. Liberty Christian, 4 p.m.
4A: Bothell vs. Chiawana, 7:30 p.m.
BOTHELL – Welcome to the Ross and Dayzell Show! If you’re a fan of football, or goofballs, you’ve come to the right place.
They’ll astound you with their abilities on the field, then crack you up with their comedy act — except it’s no act at all, just the way best friends interact on a regular basis.
Quarterback Ross Bowers and receiver Dayzell Wilson make a dynamic duo on the football field for top-ranked Bothell High School (13-0), which plays defending champion Chiawana of Pasco (12-1) in the Class 4A state high-school championship game Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Tacoma Dome.
They share a trust and bond that runs deep — and we’re not just talking deep pass routes here. They consider each other brothers, and fight like it at times, too.
Take Bothell’s opening playoff game with Bethel (please! Ross would likely interject). Ross called a 10-yard dig route, which Dayzell ran (to perfection! Dayzell might add). But when Ross threw a 10-yard curl and Dayzell was so surprised he let it go through his hands, a tiff ensued.
He looked back at Ross with a “really?!” expression, long arms extended palms up, and Ross said something like, “Just catch the dang ball!” So they huffed to opposite corners of the sideline to fume.
“They came off the field barking at each other,” coach Tom Bainter recalled.
But, like true teammates, and friends, it was all quickly forgiven and forgotten. The two were soon celebrating in the end zone after connecting on one of their 21 touchdown passes this season, and the Cougars won 56-7.
They laugh about it now and insist they’ve never stayed mad for even a day.
“We’re usually sarcastic with each other and try to hurt each other’s feelings, but that’s about it,” Ross said with a grin. “That’s our best friendship there.”
Sit down for a meal with them — like at one of their favorite hangouts, Teddy’s, and it’s a steady stream of banter and one-upmanship.
Each orders a burger and fries. When Ross finishes first, he points at something out the window and steals a fry when Dayzell looks away. Dayzell can’t believe he fell for it.
The two became friends as eighth-graders, after Dayzell’s family moved to Bothell from Renton. Ross loves to tell the story of their first encounter at an open gym for basketball.
“In walks this kid that looks pretty athletic, long old arms, really quiet at the time,” he said. “Then he starts playing and he’s stealing the ball from everybody and dribbling crazy and trying to do a lot of stuff. At the time, he had like a ponytail.”
“It was a ponytail,” Dayzell interjects.
“OK, it was a ponytail,” Ross said. “So we actually all thought he was a girl, for about a week.”
“My voice was already naturally high,” Dayzell adds. “I fit the role.”
The two grew closer the following year when they took a video class together.
“We started feeding off each other’s energy,” Ross says.
Ross does most of the talking. The youngest son of two college coaches (Joanne heads the women’s gymnastics program at Washington, John is an assistant football coach at James Madison), he is well-spoken and insightful. Ross, who has passed for more than 3,200 yards with 36 TDs, plans to graduate in January and enroll at California, where he has a full football scholarship.
Dayzell, the middle of five kids with busy parents (Danny works for Darigold and Jalisha is a nurse), is quick with the one-liners but otherwise seems to defer to Ross. He also has Division I talent and hopes to soon qualify academically.
Dayzell spends a lot of time at the Ross house and considers Joanne a second mom.
“They can get on each other at times, but they know it’s just talk,” Joanne said. “Mostly they just make me laugh.”
XBox is a favorite pastime, and both admit Dayzell regularly wins at Madden, which doesn’t sit well with Ross.
“There are controllers thrown,” Ross said.
He began throwing passes to Dayzell their sophomore year (Ross was the backup QB on varsity as a ninth-grader, while Dayzell played on the freshman team). Bainter quickly noticed a blossoming on-field relationship.
“When they were sophomores, you could see it,” he said. “You could tell Ross had a favorite guy and they trust each other. If Ross is in a bind, especially when he was young, that was his security blanket, he would go to Dayzell. That’s when I knew they had something special going.”
Teammates have taken notice.
“They have a crazy amount of chemistry, that’s for sure,” said senior Sam McPherson, whose season ended with a knee injury. “It’s pretty cool to watch them do what they do.”
Ross and Dayzell hope to end a special season with the school’s first football championship. Either way, they know their friendship will live on long after.