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Archive for August 2009

First look at Stanford

COUGARS

As you’ve known for a long time, the first opponent this Saturday is Stanford. Which is why the Cardinal are the subject of our first look this week. Read on for the unedited version of the piece that will appear in tomorrow’s S-R.

Chiefs scrimmage leftovers

Head coach Hardy Sauter wasn’t the only one pleased with the way the Spokane Chiefs Red-White scrimmage played out Sunday afternoon at the Arena.

Veteran players, goalie James Reid, forward Mitch Wahl and forward Tyler Johnson liked what they as training camp ended. Now they’re eager for the games to begin.

Sloan back after summer scare

The wait is just about over. Washington high school football teams are fine-tuning for this weekend’s opening games, beginning Thursday when defending Greater Spokane League champion and state semifinalist Ferris faces North Central at Albi Stadium, 6:30 p.m. It is precursor to Friday night’s huge showdown game between Mt. Spokane and Mead at 8.

One bit of good news at Central Valley, which hosts Rogers Friday at 7, is that Rick Sloan is back helping handle the offense. He was diagnosed with a pre-rheumatoid arthritic condition and took the summer off from coaching Bears basketball.

Other games Friday: Lewis and Clark at Lake City (non-league), East Valley at Gonzaga Prep, both 7 and Shadle Park-University, 5:30, Albi. We’ll see early how accurate my predicted order of finish in tomorrow’s S-R might be.

A light WSU, Pac-10 morning


COUGARS

Since I’ve been doing this morning post, I’ve never seen the web so lacking in Pac-10 news. Or had more trouble getting out on it in the first place. I’m using my backup connection because the high speed isn’t working. Weird. Anyhow, found some stuff, so read on.

More from WSU’s practice


COUGARS

OK, so the big news is on the previous post. We have some more on the decision to give Kevin Lopina the start and play Marshall Lobbestael some as well on the link. We also have some other news on the starting spots. Read on.

Lopina will start for WSU vs. Stanford


COUGARS • UPDATED: 7 P.M.

Just came from the practice field. Paul Wulff announced after practice that Kevin Lopina would take the first snaps at quarterback Saturday against Stanford but that Marshall Lobbestael will play as early as the third possession. Wulff said both players deserved a shot to show what they can do on the field because of their play in fall camp. Will be back in a little while with more.

• UPDATE: On the link is the unedited version of my story for tomorrow’s S-R. Read on.

Chiefs close fall camp

An entertaining scrimmage capped the Chiefs fall camp. Keep reading for the story than will appear in Monday’s newspaper.

Vandals, Akey embark on third year

The number 10 holds a good bit of significance for the Idaho Vandals this season. It’s been 10 years since they last had a winning season, and 10 years since they even got off on the right foot with a season-opening win (hard to believe, I know). If that’s not enough, two players who wear No. 10 — QB Nathan Enderle and Shiloh Keo — will be critically important if UI does stage a reclamation. 

For more about the Vandals check out my season preview below, which is slated to run in Monday’s S-R.

Day off doesn’t mean no WSU news


COUGARS

With Washington State taken off yesterday, except for having a bunch of pictures shot and signing autographs at the FanFest, there’s little in the way of Cougar news on the web. But don’t despair. There is some, plus a trivia note from the WSU sports information office. And lots of junk on the conference. Read on.

Eags hold final preseason scrimmage

Eastern Washington University held its final football scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday, and head coach Beau Baldwin once again used the hour-long scrimmage to get a closer look at some of the young players on his roster.

You can read an unedited version of the story that will appear in Sunday’s S-R below.  And check back on Tuesday night for a first-read of the EWU season preview that is scheduled to run in Wednesday’s S-R.

 

Looking back at WSU’s fall camp


COUGARS

Our season preview, the unedited version of which you can read on the post below, dwelt with an esoteric subject, measuring success. This post, which you can read on the link, is more down-to-earth. I wanted to look at a couple of position battles and let you know what each participants has going for themselves. And I wanted to summarize the surprises, positive and negative, from the past three weeks. Interested? Read on.

What constitutes success for WSU?


COUGARS

One more week until Washington State’s 2009 football season begins. What’s going to happen? Who knows. We decided to ask coach Paul Wulff and some of the more experienced players what needs to happen for the season to be considered a success. What follows is the unedited story we put together for Sunday’s S-R. Read on.

Dench back with ‘99 teammates

Members of GU’s 1999 team that advanced to the Elite Eight came back to town — several actually didn’t have to travel because they’ve made Spokane their home — to help support Mark and Marcy Few’s Coaches vs. Cancer event.

Ex-Zag Axel Dench probably made the longest trip. See what he’s been up to here.

Mock coverage of WSU, Pac-10


COUGARS

We hate to admit it, but we made a mistake last night. We should have referred to what we termed WSU’s “scrimmage” as a “mock game.” That seems to be all the rage around the country right now. It’s the hot term for a controlled environment in which the players do everything they would do in a game except get yelled at by the opponent’s crowd. Because there is no opponent, only teammates. Which makes a mockery of the game part. Oh well, we have links to coverage of WSU’s scrimmage – yes, we’ve decided we like that term better – and to other news from around the Pac-10.

CdA scorches Lakeland

The Coeur d’Alene High football team ran away from Lakeland 57-7 in a season-opening game Friday.

Click the tab below to read my unedited game story.

More on WSU’s scrimmage


COUGARS

We covered quite a bit in my story on the previous link, so you’re pretty well in the know. But we have some other things to pass on. If you want to know, read on.

No QB decision after last WSU scrimmage


COUGARS

The final act of fall camp occurred Friday afternoon. A scrimmage that featured hitting but no tackling. Some players were held out, some players who had not been practicing suited up and ran off to the side (hint: a starting cornerback). And no decision was made about the starting QB. Read on for the unedited version of our S-R story.

UI won’t rely on newbies … as much

Eight days away from their opener at New Mexico State, the Idaho Vandals pretty much have their depth chart and starting lineup set. There’s an exception here and there, particularly at right guard. Read on for a notebook focusing on promising true freshmen, who will redshirt, injury updates and more.

And for a bonus, I have some thoughts from AD Rob Spear about the Kibbie Dome, scheduling and the direction of the program.

GSL football travels, days 3-4

On Wednesday my travels took me to East Valley and North Central and yesterday I watched Gonzaga Prep scrimmage. The two 3A schools have similar concerns - lack of depth - Prep has a certain amount of inexperience, but if the Bullpups replace graduated linemen and quarterback, they should be all right.

Hockey hopefuls ready

The first day of camp had some prospective Spokane Chiefs considering their opportunity.

The morning WSU, Pac-10 report


COUGARS • UPDATED: 9:15 A.M.

Washington State held its last true fall camp practice yesterday, if you define fall camp as that time of the year when the football team concentrates on making itself better and doesn’t worry about an opponent – too much. Don’t let anyone fool you, the Cougars have worked occasionally on Stanford stuff, but not with the diligence they’ll show starting after today’s scrimmage is over. As for said scrimmage, though it probably won’t be full go – this is not a day to get anyone hurt – it is the final chance for some players battling for a starting spot to impress the coaches. So expect passion. Read on for today’s links.

Scrimmage will end fall camp for WSU


COUGARS

We teased you a little bit with our previous post. So we promise we’ll begin this one with news about the end-of-practice field goal kicking. But that’s not the most important news to come out of the late workout, held at the last minute in Martin Stadium. Read on.

WSU’s Enyeart would rather stay anonymous


COUGARS

Sometimes a jinx can hit even before a story is published. Keep that in mind as you read our last position preview, because we’ll have a note about the field goal kicking in our usual daily practice summary. The unedited version of tomorrow’s S-R story is on the link.

Reaction from Chiefs camp

Fall camp means different things to different players and the Spokane Chiefs are no different. But for all of the hockey hopefuls there is one constant - pressue to perform.

The Chiefs hit the ice Thursday morning and we were there. We’ll know more when the Red-White scrimmage comes around on Sunday, but in addition to visiting with some of the youngsters who hope to crack a veteran lineup, we talked to some veterans as well as the top two picks from the summer Bantam Draft, who are only here for the experience.

IEL football

Here’s a link to a look at 5A and 4A Inland Empire League football.

Also, you’ll find our predictions and some other goodies here.

Lake City coach Van Troxel is pictured above.

A busy day around the Pac-10


COUGARS

Woke a little earlier than usual this morning and I’m glad I did. There are stories after stories today, some with a WSU bent, others, many others, from around the Pac-10. Hope you have some extra time as well. Read on.

Chiefs hit ice

The Spokane Chiefs - all 68 of them - take to the ice this morning - 18 of them expecting to be back for another Western Hockey League season, 50 hoping to grab one of the five remaining spots. We had a our pre-camp preview this morning and we’re heading off to see the action.

WSU Wednesday practice notes


COUGARS

Brandon Jones, quite possibly the Cougars’ best cover corner, wore a boot on his right ankle today, hobbling around the practice field instead of shutting down one side of it. With Jones out, there were changes in the secondary. Read on for that and an update on an ill player.

WSU hopes offseason gains help secondary

COUGARS

The best laid plans often get waylaid. We had this secondary preview pretty well done this week and then Brandon Jones sprained his ankle. He could be out for two-to-three weeks, depending on how the injury responded to treatment (we’ll have more on the practice summary post). We adjusted. On the link you’ll find our unedited preview. Read on.

Klemm demoted, sort of

There isn’t a lot of room for new players to join the Spokane Chiefs hockey team with 18 players returning, but one newcomer has already joined the team - former star defenseman Jon Klemm.

“He gives us some intanglibles that obviously no one here has been a part of. That being playing in the American Hockey League, then the NHL, being part of winning Stanley Cups,” second-year coach Hardy Sauter said. “Those are just experiences we are going to exploit.”

Of course Klemm had to pay a price in swapping his jersey for a whistle.

For the explanation and Klemm’s thoughts heading into camp - plus a couple of links, keep reading.

Shock celebrate, eye changes in future

The Spokane Shock threw a party Tuesday night to celebrate a 19-1 season and ArenaCup championship. John Blanchette filed this column on the event and what’s next for the Shock.  

GSL football travels, day two

Next up was a swing north on Tuesday to watch Mead, Mt. Spokane, Rogers and North Central and the reminder that district rival Panthers and Wildcats open their seasons against each other. Last year was a one-touchdown thriller won by Mead, but the team ultimately was victim of a rugged 4A slate. Mt. Spokane rallied in the second half the season, beat Hanford in a wild playoff game that earned them a berth in 3A state. Both should contend again

 Rogers ended a long losing streak, winning twice last year, and seeks to build on that. The Indians have a new coach, Brian Gardner, and clean slate after going winless last year. 

Games getting closer for Pac-10


COUGARS

It must be getting closer to game week. Tensions are rising, positions are being filled, injured players are making miraculous recoveries and there are stories, multiple stories, from Cal and Stanford. Read on for your morning fix.

Wulff not smiling after WSU practice


COUGARS

This is the third year I’ve covered Washington State University football and I can say I’ve never seen a coach more ticked at his team after a practice. Paul Wulff was so angry at the effort expended today he was nearly speechless. Read on for more on the day.

WSU’s linebacker corps deeper this season

COUGARS

We were waiting to hear some news concerning the linebacker position before we could post this, our position preview. The question was answered, the story is done, though not edited, and you can read it on the link.

Heytvelt bound for Turkey

Ex-Zag Josh Heytvelt is bound for Turkey. Read on for more.

WSU links always better late than …


COUGARS

I know you like your morning post earlier, but this morning has included driving 90 miles, helping the cable guy and then, finally, getting to the web for stories. Found a couple interesting ones too, including a special basketball piece for the end, if you get that far. Before then, however, we have our usual morning blend of WSU and Pac-10 stuff. Read on.

Chiefs start process

Hello hockey fans. With all of our changes, I find myself back on the hockey beat. After spending time with Chiefs general manager Tim Speltz, coach Hardy Sauter and new assistant coach Jon Klemm on Monday, I’m set to go. Along the way I hope to make Sportslink the place to go to keep up with the Chiefs and the Western Hockey League. And there is news to get us started.

GSL football - Travels with Mikey

Took a swing through the southern portion of the Greater Spokane League on Day One, leaving me with one question: Whose idea was it to close down 37th between Hart Field and Ferris during beginning of football practices?

Monday began at Lewis and Clark (state champs 2007), detoured down to 29th to reach Ferris (back-to-back state semifinalists), hit Central Valley (top eight last year) and concluded the day watching University and the new program of Bill Diedrick.

The way the GSL has played the last couple years football has made it a special thing to witness. As coach Jim Sharkey said on Monday, “I think this league has really arrived. You’ll see a high level of play even with people graduated. All the 4A schools are going to be pretty good.”

WSU defensive line wants to fly around


COUGARS

With Washington State taking the day off from practice, we’re taking a little time ourselves. We have the unedited version of our defensive line preview story on the link along with a couple of web-only notes. Click the link.

Shock holding celebration Tuesday

The Spokane Shock announced they’ll hold a championship rally Tuesday from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 at the Shock practice facility. The Shock defeated Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 74-27 on Saturday to capture their second Arena Cup championship in four years.

Details on the rally here.

Football games this week

Ready or not, a handful of North Idaho football teams have season openers this week.

For fun, use this thread to start talking about the early prospects for your team.

Pac-10, WSU links to start your week


COUGARS

Hope your new work week is starting well. I’ll try to help with news and links from around the Pac-10. As always, we start with what we have on Washington State.

Vandals’ offense glimmers

The last true scrimmage of fall camp for the Idaho Vandals was as one-sided as any in fall camp. The offense piled up yards through the ground and the passing game, and they did so in huge chunks. Read on for details.

Reception improving for WSU


COUGARS

The last practice before school starts – the first day of classes is tomorrow – was without pads and was short and focused. Read on for our corresponding report.

Alfred is WSU’s leader with or without a bell

COUGARS

The last of the offensive previews will be in tomorrow’s S-R. It’s the offensive line. We have the unedited version of our S-R story on the link.

Sunday morning links

There wasn’t much media at the ArenaCup (S-R, AM-700 The Ticket/KXLY, a reporter from back East, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and one other fellow who I assume was stringing for another paper), but we’ll give you what we could find on the net before I check out of the hotel.

Here are game stories from the Las Vegas paper, the Citizen’s Voice and Times-Leader here and here. Here’s the S-R gamer I filed last night.

I’ve been asked via e-mail about the crowd size and Spokane’s contingent. The announced crowd was 5,800 and change. It was actually closer to 3,000-3,500, which is at least 1,000 more than I thought would be on hand. I know league officials were worried about a crowd of sub-2,000. Shock fans probably accounted for perhaps 1,200 of the crowd, impressive considering they didn’t know for sure Spokane would be in the game until eight days ago. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton had perhaps 150.

Sunday morning spin around the Pac-10


COUGARS

Most every Pac-10 team held a scrimmage yesterday, though I can’t tell you whether Stanford did or didn’t. Swear to god, I’m not sure the Cardinal will even show up in Pullman two weeks from now. They might have dropped the sport for all I know. Anyhow, read on for news from WSU and the rest of the Pac-10 – except Stanford.

No. 1, without a doubt

Spokane turned a close game into a rout, burying Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 74-27 with a dominating second half. The Shock (19-1) scored 41 unanswered points to open the second half, wiping out a 21-20 halftime deficit.

The Shock captured their second ArenaCup championship in the franchise’s four-year history. Spokane defeated the Pioneers 56-52 in July, but this one was over by late in the third quarter.

My unedited game story is below.

WSU runs through situations


COUGARS

A short, quick, sans-pads practice for WSU this afternoon. The Cougars spent their final two-a-day workout running through fundamental drills and situational substitutions. Read on for our short report.

WSU still searching for starting quarterback

COUGARS

Another day, another position preview. This is the big one. Quarterback. Truth in advertising: If you are expecting the starter to be named, sorry. Not happening yet. The competition will continue another week. However, if you want to know where everyone stands, read on. We have the unedited version of our S-R story on the link.

Morning Cup links

Rode up the elevator with WB/S coach Rich Ingold a few mintes ago. He asked how Spokane was feeling entering tonight’s title game and I replied confident, that winning teams seem to find a way to keep winning. He sounded confident, too, recalling that two of WB/S quarterback Ryan Vena’s interceptions in the July game in Spokane were basically poor decisions and that he doesn’t expect similar miscues tonight. Should be a good one.

Meanwhile, a little late morning reading leading up to the Cup. Here are game previews from the S-R, Citizen’s Voice and Times Leader. The Las Vegas paper checked in with a feature on Ryan Vena and another on Spokane’s Jeff Van Orsow, a former Foothill High (Henderson, Nev.) standout who has been sidelined since midseason with a finger injury, but I couldn’t find a link on their Website.

Passing game shines for WSU


COUGARS

The first practice of the day is over and the Washington State football players are on their way to the Lentil Festival parade. We have our news and notes from the morning practice. Read on.

WSU starting early this Saturday


COUGARS

You can blame the Lentil Festival. I am. Because the Washington State football team is ticketed to participate in today’s parade, practice begins at 8 a.m. On a Saturday. Shoot, it was hard to get up this early on a Saturday even when watching Bug Bunny cartoons and eating Trix were all I cared about. But we’re awake. And we’ve got your morning briefing. Just click the link.

Shock, Pioneers set for showdown, volume two

ArenaCup media day came and went. As I expected, there are two beat writers here (me and a guy from a paper back East) and a couple of television/radio crews. Not quite like the press gathering at Super Bowl XL in Detroit a few years ago! I think there were 2,000 of us in a hotel ballroom for the Rolling Stones Q & A.

Both teams played nice in front of the cameras and tape recorders, but players on both sides recall a lot of yakking from the July contest won by Spokane 56-52. Still, words probably won’t matter much in the rematch. Execution, turnovers and pass rush will.

Read on for my unedited game advance. (That’s Andy Olson pictured from the first game with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton).

WSU’s young receivers ready to make a mark


COUGARS

It took me a while, but I finally got this story ready for you to read. On the link you’ll find the receivers position preview. Read on.

WSU’s Montgomery will miss a few days

COUGARS

We’re doing this a little different today because we are in the middle of our position previews (today’s spot in the crosshairs: receivers). We’ll post our practice summary first and then put up the story for tomorrow’s paper. So read on, we’ve got news on James Montgomery’s injury and other news and notes.

Even our post affected by Pac-10’s rush of injuries


COUGARS

The toughest, or longest, or hardest, whichever adjective you want to pick, week of the fall camp is finally starting to wind down. Washington State practices once today, has its last two-a-day Saturday and the final practice of the week Sunday morning. With the heat that finally seems to be moderating today, this has been the type of week coaches want as they prepare for a long season. For our super-sized morning post, click the link.

Scare cools down WSU’s practice


COUGARS

It’s funny how one play can change the whole tenor of a practice. Read on for our thoughts from the afternoon workout, held in 96-degree heat on Rogers Field.

WSU likes depth at running back


COUGARS

We’re starting our annual position previews in tomorrow’s S-R, so we’ll share the first story here. It’s about the running backs, probably the deepest position on the team, though it almost got a little thinner during practice when James Montgomery’s right knee was dinged up in a skelly drill. Montgomery, who stayed down a while then put ice on his knee, looked OK by the end of practice. The ice was off and he was walking with only a slightest bit of a limp. He’s the focus of our story, the unedited version of which you can read on the link.

Shock, Pioneers familiar foes

Back with a notebook that will run in Friday’s S-R. The unedited version is below. I fly to Las Vegas in the morning and will post a game advance later in the day.

 

Offense shines at WSU’s morning practice


COUGARS

The day’s first practice is in the books, at least it’s in my notebook. And as I look through my notes I see almost everything I wrote had to do with offensive success. It’s little wonder the defense stayed after to run sprints.

Some news on WSU’s first opponent

COUGARS

Washington State has two more practices today, which is no shock. That I found two stories about Stanford, the Cougars opponent in the season opener, now that’s a shock. For those stories, and more, read on.

Newsy scrimmage for Idaho

All sorts of news came out of today’s Idaho football scrimmage. For starters, safety Virdell Larkins has left the program. There are also a host of injuries that have popped up. Keep reading for all the details.

Vena leads WB/S to title game

We checked in with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton quarterback Ryan Vena, whose name is prominent in the af2 record book, by telephone this morning.

Read on for my unedited feature on Vena (No. 5 in the picture above).

 

Lowdown on GSL grid stats

Got the Greater Spokane League football statistical data updated prior to the start of football play in a little over two weeks. Herewith is a recap of what transpired in 2008 where receivers secured places in league history.

Bouldin makes preseason Wooden list

Gonzaga’s Matt Bouldin is one of 50 players on the Wooden preseason top 50 list. Read on below for more.

 

Notes from WSU’s practice


COUGARS

After taking a few minutes to fill the stomach, we’re ready to share our observations from this morning’s practice. Read on for more about the players missing and other news and notes.

WSU spends more time in Martin Stadium


COUGARS

The Cougars practiced in Martin Stadium again today and there are reasons for that. We cover those reasons, and what WSU got out of practice this morning, in our story for tomorrow’s S-R. You can read the unedited version on the link.

White, Gray honored by af2

Spokane’s Markee White and Virgil Gray were among those honored when af2 announced its weekly awards winners.

White’s second-quarter TD grab against Tulsa was honored as the big catch of the week. Gray was named defensive player of the week after making eight tackles and breaking up one pass. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton quarterback Ryan Vena also was honored. More here.

Rio Grande Valley receiver Rod Winsor was named offensive player of the year. More here.

Just over two weeks until games


COUGARS

As the days roll on, we’re getting closer to the midpoint of fall camp – depending on when you determine camp closing and the first-game prep starting, that midpoint is one of the days this week. Which means it’s almost time for us to start our annual position previews. Those will get underway Friday morning. Until then, we have our usual morning spin around WSU and Pac-10 links.

Vandals’ Iupati on another watch list

Mike Iupati, the Idaho Vandals’ hulking left guard, has been named to the Lombardi Rotary watch list from which the nation’s top lineman will be chosen in December. The honor comes a week after Iupati was named to the Outland Trophy watch list.

Iupati is the Vandals’ offensive captain and the anchor of the offensive line. The senior is also easily Idaho’s top NFL prospect.

Click here for more. And check back tomorrow; I’ll be posting my story on the Vandals’ second scrimmage.

WSU game with Stanford on TV


COUGARS

There are some notes we couldn’t get to in our practice story, from a game-time change (and a television pickup) to a possible (probable?) destination for a former Cougar. Read on.

Spokane’s defense makes a stand

Back with a feature article on Spokane’s defense, which ranks at or near the top in nearly every key statistical category in af2. Read on for the unedited version that will run in Wednesday’s S-R.

(Pictured is Ben McCombs and Caesar Rayford making a tackle on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton quarterback Ryan Vena in the team’s first meeting in July.)

Another two-a-day in the books for WSU


COUGARS

Two practices. Two different feels. We have our story about both on the link. Read on for the unedited version of what will appear in tomorrow’s S-R.

WSU emphasizes running game


COUGARS

The intensity level of practice picked up measurably Tuesday morning coming off WSU’s day of rest. From the get-go it seemed the drills were designed to get people hitting, to test toughness. And it worked. The Cougars battled throughout each scrimmage session. There were wins - and no losses to injury - on both sides of the ball. Read on.

Injuries strike Pac-10 teams


COUGARS

Washington State begins its week of practice this morning at 9 and we’ll be there. But before we get to that, let’s take our spin around the West Coast this morning. Follow the link.

Shock want win, fun in Vegas

OK, where were we.

Last I saw the Spokane Shock, they were disposing of Stockton in the first-round of the playoffs. Then I went on a nine-day vacation to Alaska (scheduled nearly a year ago, prior to learning that I would be covering the 2009 Shock). Thanks to John Blanchette and Steve Bergum for handling the beat in my absence.

As you can see by the lack of posts, I was without a computer and apparently nobody bothered to update this blog with details of Spokane’s wins over Boise and Tulsa. We’re back at it and you can find game stories from Boise here and Tulsa here and here.

Looking forward, it’s ArenaCup week and I just filed a notebook that will run in Tuesday’s S-R. The unedited version is below.

 

Prep football’s here, vacation’s over

Vacation’s over, another sports year begins.

High school football teams open practice on Wednesday and my early prediction for the Greater Spokane League favors Ferris for the third straight year. The team won the annual 7-on-7 tournament in Burnaby again and should be solid in the line.

Behind them it’s a crapshoot, although you have to like Mt. Spokane which returns most everybody from a state qualifying 3A team.

A birdie told me that Mead’s defense looked awesome in a summer camp that included the Saxons, Panthers, state quarterfinalist Central Valley (good line needs to fill skilled positions), Gonzaga Prep and teams from Idaho. Look for a veteran University team to make a big jump.

There are three new coaches, Dave Hughes and Brian Gardner moving up (from assistantships) at Lewis and Clark and North Central respectively, Bill Diedrick moving down (from college and pro ranks) to University. Like the class of 2008, the class of 2012 appears talented on the heels of last year’s freshman season.

That’s my take before hitting the road to see for myself. What, prep football fans, are your thoughts?

Light news day around Pac-10


COUGARS

My guess is Monday morning’s post will be the lightest morning one of the week throughout football season. At least it will be if the pattern established today continues. As we scoured the web for news, there were two Pac-10 schools without a presence. If my math is correct, that’s 24 percent. Read on for our morning briefing.

WSU has earned its day off


COUGARS

As we wrote in our story for tomorrow’s S-R, the unedited version of which is on the post below, Sunday was a day of change. Part of it was in the level of challenges the player were asked to meet, which we examined in the story. But there were some other aspects as well. We cover those on the link.

WSU quarterback decides to transfer


COUGARS

Both Sunday practices are over. We’ve got the unedited version of our S-R story on the link. It contains some news about practice and about quarterback J.T. Levenseller leaving the program. Read on.

Morning at WSU practice


COUGARS

A quick post with some thoughts from the morning practice. Read on if you are interested on this beautiful Sunday morning. Me, I would rather be outside working in the yard or inside watching the PGA. But I’m here.

Sunday links prior to WSU’s two practices


COUGARS

Sunday mornings are always a busy time, so let’s get right to it. There are stories galore (now that’s a word right out of the 1950s, when a certain quarterback we mention later on was playing football) about Saturday’s scrimmage, along with news from all the Pac-10 schools (and yes, we got all of them today). Read on for our morning briefing.

More from WSU’s scrimmage


COUGARS

As I was sitting on a bench in Martin Stadium about 45 minutes before Saturday’s scrimmage was to start, watching Nico Grasu drilling field goals through the west goal posts, a cart drove past. In the passenger seat was former Cougar coach Jim Sweeney. In the back, former baseball coach Bobo Brayton. They were headed to the south side to watch the scrimmage. But as they passed behind the goal posts, one of Grasu’s kicks tumbled from the sky, striking inside the cart right next to Brayton and bouncing over him. It didn’t phase him at all. Read on for more from the scrimmage.

Wulff smiling after WSU scrimmage


COUGARS

We’re back with the unedited version of our story from the scrimmage. Finish reading this and then check back soon because we’ll have more from the Saturday workout.

How will WSU pick a starting quarterback?


COUGARS

Our first post this afternoon concerns the quarterback battle. We talked with offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy concerning what goes into the decision-making process and the story that follows is the result of those conversations. Read on for that then be patient, our story about the scrimmage will be done soon.

Eags’ first workout sloppy, but spirited

Eastern Washington staged its first full practice of fall camp Friday afternoon, running through a two-workout without pads.  You can read the story about the practice session that ran in this morning’s S-R here.

And you can read on for additional information, including a suprise appearance by last year’s FCS Buck Buchanan Award winner Greg Peach.

Give the guy a scythe


COUGARS

I’m starting to feel a little like the grim reporter. After talking with Jeshua Anderson on Thursday and highlighting his improved play in my story, the junior wide receiver goes down with a hamstring injury Friday. He’s out for a few days at least. And guess who I was going to feature on the blog Friday? Freshman running back Carl Winston, who seemed to be an easy choice as the most surprising recruit. Except Winston suffered a concussion and will also miss practice for a while. So from now on I’m only writing about Cougar fans who give me a hard time. See how you like pulling a groin muscle reading SportsLink, OhioCoug733. Click the link and read the usual morning post. If you dare.

Ex-Cougar Woolridge settles into role at UI

Hard to believe DeMaundray Woolridge has been out of college football since 2006. But the former Washington State running back is eligible again … and he moved just 8 miles down the road at Idaho to reunite with Robb Akey. I talked to Woolridge after the Vandals’ first scrimmage of fall camp. Click below for the story that ensued, as well as notes from the scrimmage.

Defense, offense trade momentum at WSU


COUGARS

Momentum is a funny thing. For all of Friday’s first practice and for most of the second, the Washington State offense held it. Then all of a sudden the defense grabbed it back. For more that went on Friday and what Paul Wulff is looking for out of Saturday’s scrimmage, read on.

The no-huddle is back at WSU


COUGARS

It’s sometimes surprising what a difference a few months can make. If you want an example, just take a look at Washington State’s offense. Early last season the Cougars quit running the no-huddle, giving in when any chance of executing it correctly died in a blizzard of injuries. But this week they’ve run it, at times, better than at any point last year. Read on for the unedited version of my story on the revival of the offensive weapon.

Cool weather greets WSU


COUGARS • UPDATED: 2:15 P.M.

The first of the day’s two practices are in the book and there were some interesting moments on the cool morning. Read on for our thoughts.

Starters start to emerge in Pac-10


COUGARS

As camp winds on for Washington State, starters at many key positions have yet to be named. Such is not the case at other Pac-10 schools, including WSU’s first opponent. Read on for our usual morning post.

Pads pop as WSU moves forward


COUGARS

Washington State added the pads that cover the lower half of the body Thursday, putting on all the protection for the first time. For much of the practice the Cougars stayed with the “thud” tempo. Except for an interesting segment right at the beginning of the afternoon practice. For more, read on.

Anderson making strides for WSU

COUGARS

We’ll have Thursday’s practice summary up soon, but before we get to that, here’s the unedited version of our story for tomorrow, a feature on Jeshua Anderson. If you’re interested, read on.

Eagles will open camp, season without Leahy

Eastern Washington will open fall football practice this afternoon, and you can an early look at the unedited version of the pre-camp story that will appear in Friday’s S-R below.

The biggest news heading into the fall is the knee injury that will keep Brice Leahy, a projected returniing starter on the offensive line, out for the 2009 season.

Read on.

 

Changes might be coming to postseason


COUGARS

It seems there we’re back to the Pac-8. As we searched the web for conference news this morning, I was blindsided by the dearth of information concerning Cal and Stanford, the latter Washington State’s first opponent in less than a month. Well, there is Cougar news, and some possible bowl changes. Read on for our usual morning post.

More from WSU’s day


COUGARS

We’ve got a couple of web-exclusive items for you tonight. The first is … no, we’re not telling. Hit the link if you want to find out.

Wulff returns to WSU practice


COUGARS

Before we get to the summary of the afternoon practice – the morning session was covered in the post below – we have the unedited version of the story that will appear in tomorrow’s S-R. Read on.

Rain falls on WSU rookies


COUGARS

The morning session, featuring mostly freshmen and sophomores, is over. As Paul Wulff said, it was mostly a teaching session, giving the guys further down the depth chart a chance to be seen getting multiple reps, because they may be needed at some point this season. Read on for more.

WSU in for a long day


COUGARS

With the Cougars splitting into two squads today, it means four or five hours on the practice field for the coaches and support staff. A long day indeed. You can start it by catching up with WSU and the rest of the Pac-10 on the link in our usual morning post.

Eags to open football practice on Friday

Eastern Washington University will open its fall football camp on Friday in preparation for its Sept. 5 season and home opener against Western Oregon.  You can get more detail here.

I will attend Friday afternoon’s first practice, which starts at 2:15 and post a story as soon as possible.

For more links to stories about the Eagles’ upcoming season read on, and those looking for a blast from Eastern’s pass might check out this story on former EWU defensive lineman Dario Romero that ran in Tuesday morning’s S-R.

 

Eags announce 2009-10 basketball schedule

Eastern Washington University will officially open its 2009-10 men’s basketball season at home against Portland on Nov. 14, following a pair of home exhibition games against Saint Martin’s (Nov.1) and Montana State-Billings (Nov. 8).

As part of cost-cutting moves implemented by the Big Sky Conference, the majority of league games will be played on Friday and Saturday nights instead of the customary Thursday and Saturday night’s, thus saving schools that are traveling on lodging and food.

You can get more details on Eastern’s schedule here, along with Coach Kirk Earlywine’s thoughts on playing league games on back-to-back nights.  And feel free to leave any opinioin you might have here.

WSU in a fighting mood


COUGARS

OK, I get it. Sometimes tempers flare. It’s a contact sport with big human beings and sometimes, during the course of a hot, dry practice, someone perceives someone else crossing an invisible line. OK, it happens. But five times in one practice? And not just five little flare-ups, five big ones. It’s obvious the Washington State players are taking this talk about toughness seriously. For more on that, and the rest of the day, read on.

Simmons tries to lock down WSU corner spot


COUGARS

Oftentimes, when someone leaves a program, no matter the circumstances, there is a tendency to dwell on the gap left behind. But every opening is an opportunity for those football players still on the field and all it takes is one player to reach for it. In the case of the cornerback spot at WSU, seemingly hamstrung by offseason defections, the guy who has made the strongest grab is redshirt freshman Daniel Simmons. Read on for the unedited version of the story that will appear in tomorrow’s S-R.

WSU practice adds a new element today

COUGARS

That new car smell is starting to fade from football practices around the Pac-10. Each team is on the field, and some, with earlier openers, are in full pads. The Washington State Cougars will add shoulder pads to their helmets today, so the hitting should ratchet up a notch. Everyone hopes that doesn’t mean a scare like the one that hit at USC yesterday. Read on for WSU and conference news.

More on WSU’s practice day


COUGARS • UPDATED: 7:05 P.M.

Two days into fall practice and there are some obvious differences between this year’s team and last year’s. Some of them have been documented in the previous post. But there are others. Read on and you’ll see what we are talking about.

WSU builds on an offseason of work


COUGARS

The most obvious difference with this Washington State football team and last year’s squad is definable. It’s the players’ builds. Since last December, the Cougars have put in the time to build muscle, endurance and speed. Are they where they want to be? No. But the foundation is being laid. Read on for the unedited version of our story that will appear in tomorrow’s S-R.

Fall practice in full swing


COUGARS

The 2009 Washington State football season is off and sprinting, though the Cougars didn’t do much in the way of running at practice yesterday. Don’t need it because a) there is so much running at practice and b) there is so much conditioning work during the summer. Players come into camp fit, ready to practice all out from the opening horn. Wish we could say the same for us spectators. Let’s see what’s going on around the Pac-10.

WSU puts 2008 in rearview mirror


COUGARS

The first practice of the 2009 season featured many of the same drills from last year. The practice structure was familiar, the pace similar. But there was a lot of differences and we’re not even talking about the absence of head coach Paul Wulff. Read on for our practice report.

WSU looks to toughen up


COUGARS

We’ve finished our story for tomorrow’s S-R, the unedited version of which you can read by clicking the link. We’ll have more, a lot more, soon. But for now, read on.

Sunday morning WSU reading


COUGARS

In a couple of hours, the Washington State football team will kick off the 2009 season with what is sure to be a spirited practice. There will be no hitting, of course, because the first two days the players are wearing no pads except their helmets. But there is sure to be a lot of running around, especially at the end when the coaches will find out just what type of shape the 90 or so players are in. Before we share that experience with you – no, I won’t be doing any running, those days are long gone, but I can try to put you on the field through descriptive writing – we want to share today’s news from WSU and around the Pac-10. Read on.

Idaho runs through smooth 1st practice

Fall camp officially began this afternoon for the Idaho Vandals. And the first order of business for coach Robb Akey was announcing team captains — guard Mike Iupati (offense), lineman Jonah Sataraka (defense) and Devon Sturdivant (special teams). Other than that bit of news, it was a pretty uneventful afternoon of practice. One highlight did come from backup QB Brian Reader, which you can read about it in my story for Sunday’s S-R below.

WSU kicks off practice in morning


COUGARS

If you read the previous post, you’re pretty up-to-date with Paul Wulff’s thoughts heading into tomorrow’s opening day of fall football camp. If you didn’t, do it now. I mean it. Done? Now you can read our two unedited stories prepared for tomorrow’s S-R.

Wulff looks ahead to WSU camp


COUGARS

Just got done with Paul Wulff’s season-kickoff press conference, then had an opportunity to talk a little more with Washington State’s coach afterward. Read on for some highlights.

Shock, Burn set for showdown

It’s been an interesting week of build-up to Saturday’s Spokane-Boise playoff game. Both sides traded barbs in newspapers, but the game finally takes center stage.

Read my unedited advance below.

 

Catching up with WSU


COUGARS

Been spending time this week trying to get the house in order for the upcoming football season. And by house, I mean that literally – getting crud done that needs to be taken care of before winter hits – and figuratively – making sure our 30th wedding anniversary doesn’t slip through the cracks. Luckily, the amount of WSU-related news has cooperated. But there is some today, so read on.

Vandals ready themselves for camp

Remarkably, it’s already that time of year — yes, college football is here. Well, almost anyway. The Idaho Vandals open fall camp Saturday afternoon. Check out below for our preview with some interesting comments from Robb Akey and Jonah Sataraka.

No Shock that Booker fits in

Just filed a feature article on Shock offensive lineman John Booker that will run in Friday’s S-R. Read more about the San Jose State product who has helped Spokane’s offense with his blocking and an occasional reception in an unedited article below.

(Please note that Booker is 22 years old. I’ve tried to fix that in the article below three times without success.)  

Six Shock named All-af2

The Spokane Shock placed four players on the National Conference All-af2 first-team. Quarterback Nick Davila, center Kyle Young, receiver Raul Vijil and defensive end Ben McCombs made the first unit. Vijil (pictured above) made first team for the season straight year and Young was a second-team selection in 2008.

Spokane has had a first-team receiver four consecutive years (Charles Frederick in 2006, Antwone Savage in 2007 and Vijil the last two seasons). 

Defensive back Sergio Gilliam and offensive lineman Ryan Belcher made second-team. Gilliam and Belcher  made first-team a year ago.

More here.

Daye signs with Pistons

Austin Daye is officially a millionaire. A couple of times.

Daye will make $1.4 million for his first year and at least $2.9 million over his first two seasons with Detroit. More here and here.

Shock notebook

Back with an unedited notebook after attending Spokane’s Tuesday practice. Read more about the demise of the AFL, the war of words leading up to Saturday’s game with Boise and an injury update below.

 

Gilliam picks off af2 honors

Defensive back Sergio Gilliam, who picked off three passes in Spokane’s 62-21 playoff win over Stockton, was honored as af2’s defensive player of the week. More here and here.

Gonzaga-Colorado in Maui opener

Pairings were announced Tuesday for the Maui Invitational over the Thanksgiving holiday. Gonzaga will take on Colorado in the tourney opener.

More here, here and here

AFL expected to fold

There are numerous media reports that the AFL has played its last game and will declare bankruptcy. The AFL suspended its 2009 season in hopes of returning in 2010. More here, here and here.

Heading out to Shock practice this morning and we’ll get the thoughts of the players and coaches on the demise of AFL.

Sunday morning reading

Good morning Shock fans. An interesting game last night as Stockton looked pretty good building a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter only to get swamped when Spokane’s offense and defense hit their stride. The final: 62-21.

Here’s John Blanchette’s look at the game and a game story in the Stockton Record filed by the S-R’s Greg Lee.

Here’s a game story from Boise, where the Burn hammered ex-Shock head coach Chris Siegfried’s Arkansas Twisters 77-36 behind a strong performance by backup QB Mark Thorson. However, it was a favorable bounce off the goal posts (much like Sergio Gilliam’s recovery Saturday night) and a turnover-forcing defense (think Shock most of the season) that ignited Boise’s rout.

The Burn already sound fired up about their fourth date with Spokane this season, this one will come in the National Conference semifinals Saturday night at the Arena. The Burn are 0-3 against Spokane this year and 0-8 all-time.

You can find recaps on all the first-round playoff games at the af2 Web site. There will be a new champion after Tennessee Valley, which upset Spokane in last year’s ArenaCup, fell to Green Bay.

 

Shock crush Stockton, 62-21

Spokane, after trailing 21-7 in the second quarter against eighth-seeded Stockton, rolled up eight unanswered touchdowns to post a 62-21 win Saturday at the Arena.

Next up: Spokane (16-1) meets Boise (13-4) on Saturday, the fourth clash of West Division rivals this season. Spokane is 3-0 against the Burn.

Read on for my unedited game story.

 

Just a week left before WSU practice


COUGARS

With just a week left before Washington State University begins the 2009 fall football camp, I thought it would be a good time to gather together some notes and share. Read on for the unedited version of the story that will be in tomorrow’s S-R.

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Jim Allen Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jim Meehan Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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