Ernie Bowens was known as a dynamic athlete and team leader on the football field and basketball court. He played for Governor Thomas Johnson High School in the early 1970s, where he excelled in football and basketball. Known for his athleticism, speed, quickness, and toughness, he led the 1971 Governor Thomas Johnson High school football team to a 10-0 season. As a quarterback, he guided a team that averaged 36 points per game. He helped a defense that allowed only 50 points for the season. He was named to the Maryland All-State team in 1971. For years, he was the all-time leading scorer in TJ basketball history and led the basketball team to the Tri-State League Championship and state playoffs in 1970-71 as the starting point guard. Ernie went on to play for the Frederick Falcons in 1972 and helped the Falcons go undefeated that season and win the league championship.