Many Eastern students look forward to the month of April because it brings warmer weather, which demands those shorts and skirts that have spent too long in the closet. However, for Coach Paul Wulff and 70 student-athlete hopefuls, it means spring football.
“This will be one of the largest number of players going through spring football, and we have decent depth at most positions,” said Wulff. “Every player has an opportunity to start and play this next fall.”
The team is setting high expectations for itself after a successful season last year that included a Big Sky Regular Season Championship. However, the season did end with a sour 35-34 loss as Sam Houston State scored on the final play of their quarterfinal game, knocking the Eagles out of the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs.
Practice begins April 11, and continues for 11 days, including three scrimmages.
It then concludes May 7 with the annual Red-White Spring Football Game at 2 p.m. at Woodward Field as part of the annual Orland Killin Weekend.
Eastern only lost 12 seniors from last year’s team, but 10 of them earned All-Big Sky Conference honors in 2004, leaving many significant positions to be filled. The absence of All-American offensive tackle Michael Roos and All-Region running back Darius Washington will surely not go unnoticed. Additionally, the other starting offensive tackle and Washington’s backup are also gone, making these two positions a very focal point of spring football.
“It’s important for us in the spring to find a solid nucleus in the starting offensive line, and our young running backs have to step up and be a lot better football players than they were in the fall,” said Wulff.
There are also many vacancies on the defensive side of the ball that are likely to cause some extreme competition, most notably the safety position and defensive lines.
“Sure tackling is a huge importance for our team,” Wulff said. “It is important to be a physical team that plays with great technique.” Like any great coach, Wulff will be looking to ensure his team has a firm grasp on the basics in spring to increase the chances for success in the fall.
The season opens Sept. 3 at I-A San Jose State, one of six challenging road games in the upcoming season. Eastern’s first home game is Sept. 17 versus Western Oregon.