Thomas More Prep-Marian checked off all the boxes David Bowen was looking for in his next career opportunity, and not just from a football standpoint.

“I came to TMP with bigger things in mind than just sports,” said Bowen, who is entering his first year as TMP head football coach. “This is a place I want to be for other reasons besides sports. What I can do is get the best of both worlds. I can be happy in my personal life and we can be happy in the football game.

“Moving forward, I hope we can really improve and go start winning some games in this league and be very competitive in the years to come.”

Bowen knows it will be a process turning around the program, which went 5-13 the last two seasons under Jason Cauley.

“Something I’ve seen in the senior group that I have is their camaraderie, the family atmosphere,” Bowen said. “They’ve done a pretty good job of accepting me into it. They’re letting me coach then up, letting me be hard on them and that’s what it takes to get a team moving forward and to grow.”

Bowen inherited a similar situation in his last stop at Stanton County. The Trojans had one win in three years upon his arrival, but improved to win two games in his first year and four this past season.

“I think we have to play with a chip on our shoulder,” Bowen said. “Nobody’s picking us to win. Nobody thinks we’re going to do it, and that should be all we need to motivate ourselves to go do it. That’s kind of what I preached at the last school and that’s what I’m preaching here.”

A graduate of Paola High School and Pittsburg State University, Bowen spent the first 15 years of his life in Ada, Okla., and moved back to the town after college. He spent six years as an assistant coach for the traditional football powerhouse Ada High School, which holds the Oklahoma record for most state titles with 19.

Bowen said he looks forward to the challenge of competing in the Mid-Continent League.

“I coached down in Oklahoma for years and football is kind of king down there,” he said. “I’m excited to get back into a league up here where football is kind of king here in these schools again. I’m curious to see what this team can do this year.”

The Monarchs open against Smith Center, last year’s Class 2-1A state champion, at 7 p.m. Friday at Lewis Field Stadium.