Stacey Bedell and Jordan Gowins have gobbled up Thanksgiving turkey together since they were kids. Like most Americans, it’s a tradition to spend the holiday with the extended family. Their fathers are first cousins and very close.
Besides sharing the stuffing and cranberry sauce, Bedell and Gowins also share the football when playing Division I football. The second cousins are two of the big reasons Stony Brook hammered conference rival Richmond last week, and vaulted to No. 18 in the HERO Sports FCS media poll. The Seawolves play host to 3-0 Sacred Heart on Saturday—one of only six 3-0 teams remaining in the FCS.
Bedell and Gowins plan to break bread this Thanksgiving like they always do, except this time with a different version family—their brothers on the football team. See, if Stony Brook keeps playing the way it has been—knocking off ranked FCS programs left and right—it will undoubtedly make the playoffs for the first time in four years.
Nothing would make Bedell and Gowins happier. Sharing a Thanksgiving meal with their teammates while preparing for the first postseason berth in their college careers? That would definitely be something to be thankful for. The Seawolves haven’t been in the postseason since back-to-back berths in 2011 and 2012, when those teams combined to win 19 games.
“That would be an amazing feeling to do that as a team, and I think we definitely can get that done this year,” Bedell told HERO Sports on Thursday. “We’re all like a big family here too this year. It would be just like I’m at home, but with different food.”
Bedell—who scored four touchdowns in the massive win over Richmond last weekend—is the older cousin. He started his college career at UMass and had good days against teams like Kansas State (81 yards rushing, 1 TD) and Wisconsin (70 yards) as a redshirt freshman in 2013 before deciding he wanted to be closer to home. Gowins played sparingly last fall for the ACC's Eagles, rushing for 33 yards against Wake Forest and getting six carries against Clemson. Ultimately, he also wanted to be closer to his Long Island home.
Both had been recruited by Stony Brook head coach Chuck Priore and his staff, and when Bedell learned his second cousin was contemplating a transfer, he told the coaches Gowins may be interested in coming to Stony Brook so he could play with his cousin and friend, while also being closer to his Bellport, N.Y. home. Bedell is from nearby Mastic Beach.
Gowins is the bigger back at 5-foot-11, 225 pounds, while Bedell is 5-foot-9, 195 pounds. Priore told HERO Sports that their very different builds is an added bonus.
“They definitely have similar personalities when you get to know them—they’re both very quiet kids who don’t say a lot,” Priore told HERO Sports. “They may be cousins, but it is obvious they are also very good friends … Both are very close to their families and they very much enjoy Long Island. When they decided (to sign with BC and UMass) I wished them all the success, but told them that the door was always open if they ever wanted to come back home.”
Despite how close they grew up and how close their families are, the slight age gap (Bedell is older by about two years) kept them from being on the same roster growing up. They went to different high schools (Bedell to William Floyd, Gowins to St. Anthony’s) and they were in different agegroups when they were younger.
“We pretty much played every weekend together, and we both played for our agegroup teams with the Staten Island Hurricanes, so we made those Pop Warner trips every weekend,” Gowins told HERO Sports. “We spent a lot of time together … I can’t say that I expected to ever be on the same college team with (Bedell). It’s kind of surreal that it’s going on now. Who knew we’d end up back home play on the same team? It’s real cool.
“My own blood (relative) is next to me. But then again, when I look to my left and to my right, these guys are all my blood now.”
Gowins has thoroughly enjoyed his first three games with the Seawolves, but immediately pointed out the defensive efforts in his team’s big FCS wins over previously ranked North Dakota (gave up only 9 points) and Richmond (14 points). While he and his cousin are the top two rushers on the team, he said the two wins also came because of feisty defense–led by playmaking DB Raheem Woods.
That combination of run game and tough defense is exactly what the Seawolves need as they wrap up non-conference play this weekend and stare down the gauntlet that is CAA league play.
They’ll need this success to continue—if they want to all sit down at the same table together to feast on turkey, in between preparations for a November playoff game.
Nothing would taste better.