Elijah Wagner has Bosse smiling after another monster game: 'We’re thankful to have him'

Anthony Kristensen
Evansville Courier & Press
  • Final: Bosse 48, Harrison 13

EVANSVILLE — Elijah Wagner provided the two biggest, brightest smiles at Enlow Field on Friday, as he often does. The first was allowed for a brief moment as he stood behind a silver No. 5 balloon for his Senior Night, quickly disappearing because of the task at hand. The second was longer, more drawn out and was shared among the Bulldog faithful as he held the East Bowl trophy in front of the student section after the 48-13 win over Harrison.

The senior quarterback has flashed grins and given them to others throughout his four years. Arguably the most exciting player in the area, he put up another monster stat line against the Warriors: Six total touchdowns on 503 yards and 15-of-21 through the air. Senior Night turned into Wagner Night.

That leaves plenty to smile about.

“Gotta be one of the best feelings of my high school career,” said Wagner, still showing his ear-to-ear grin. “It just feels good to get the trophy back after four years.”

Wagner’s personality resonates throughout the team. He’s the leader, the man under center and the one who brings joy. That’s infectious, be it with a little dance prior to kickoff or running over a helpless defender as he plows into the end zone.

He’s all business, but that doesn’t mean there’s no happiness. Enlow Field is his playground; Friday nights are his platform. His energy spreads to the other Bulldogs in the huddle.

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“Everybody knows Elijah now,” said coach Stephen Mullen, who added that college coaches are taking notice. “He’s a great kid to be around character-wise. … We’re thankful to have him.”

Those in the Enlow Field stands see it every week. Wagner is a player capable of going to the next level with his potential Metro Player-of-the-Year numbers. This is his stage, used to give those who watch the same happiness he plays with. The wide grins and highlight-reel stunts leave many in awe and few in front.

Bosse’s Elijah Wagner (5) carries the ball as the Bosse Bulldogs play the Harrison Warriors at Enlow Field in Evansville, Ind., Friday, Oct. 13, 2023.

Friday nights, though, will likely soon be traded for Saturdays. That’s a matter for the future. As long as Bosse is alive in the playoffs, with a visit from Jasper in the first round beckoning, Wagner’s focus remains on high school ball and providing smiles with his performances.

“It’s (been) a great opportunity to play for high school,” Wagner said. “This is only a one-time chance, once in a lifetime, so you gotta come out here and have fun.”

Wagner brings that. The countless photos with the trophy, the touchdowns and the performance brought enjoyment to those in the home stands, let alone those in Bosse jerseys. The dual-threat senior quarterback encompasses what high school football is about: Fun, big plays and community.

That’s part of where the smiles come.

Bosse’s Elijah Wagner (5) smiles after running for a touchdown as the Bosse Bulldogs play the Harrison Warriors at Enlow Field in Evansville, Ind., Friday, Oct. 13, 2023.

“It’s definitely a great feeling,” Wagner said. “Winning a rivalry game, your Senior Night, scoring, teammates playing defense well, offense going: It’s just a great night.”

Saturdays seem as though they’re coming. Wagner’s legacy, even without as many wins as he and his Bulldogs would like, is already visible. Mullen knows it. Elijah Wagner’s name is one Bosse will remember despite not having the accolades and titles others may receive. He and his passionate joy are paving the way for the next Bulldogs.

“There’s probably a kid in the stands saying, ‘I want to be No. 5,’” Mullen said. “We haven’t had a lot of those kids that kids want to be, and there’s kids that want to be him. … He’s fitting that role of being that kid that’s game-breaking.”

Bosse’s Elijah Wagner (5) leads the Bosse Bulldogs to the field ahead of their game against the Harrison Warriors at Enlow Field in Evansville, Ind., Friday, Oct. 13, 2023.

That’s Elijah Wagner.

The next level will take care of itself. Now the focus is on a postseason run. Should Wagner play to the same level he did Friday, there could be plenty more smiles to go around.

“Hey, shoutout them Dawgs,” he said with the same laugh and grin. “I love my boys. Next week could be the last ride, so whatever happens, happens.”