PULLMAN – It happens every fall, pretty much.
The Apple Cup, the ultimate game of the season for Washington State and Washington, also serves as senior day for the host school.
This year is WSU’s turn, with 19 players walking onto Martin Stadium for the last time.
“Anytime you have your last ball game at a home field, no matter where that’s at, it can be emotional no matter what,” Cougars coach Paul Wulff said this week. “The fact it being the Apple Cup, then obviously there’s more at stake.
“You just hope the players don’t get too emotional about the fact it’s their last game (at home) and they stay focused on the game.”
Among those seniors will be Brandon Gibson, WSU’s all-time pass receiving yardage leader, and Matt Mullennix, the defensive end who is going through the senior day festivities for a second time, after being granted a sixth year of eligibility, and Ben Woodard, the Cheney High grad who signed with Washington State when Mike Price was still coach.
And Greg Trent.
“He’s the first player I met here,” Wulff said of the senior middle linebacker. “He was the student they had represent the team. … That must have meant something of him as a person.”
Trent, who came to the Northwest from Keller, Texas, four years ago and was thrown in the fire immediately, trying to replace Will Derting after he was injured his senior year.
“He’s just a solid football player who loves the game,” Wulff said. “He’s someone who will do anything you ask as a coach. Those type of guys with those kind of attitudes just end up being phenomenal football players.”
Trent, who was named a team captain as a junior and who has slowly moved his way up the Cougars’ all-time list for tackles, is now eighth on the list with 309.
“He tries to do everything right,” Wulff said. “Again, one of those guys (this year) who have tried to do too much and it’s hurt him, trying to make up for others’ issues.”
Despite recent success against UW, Trent and the rest of the seniors have not won an Apple Cup at home.
“It would be special, but it would just be nice to win the game,” Trent said.
Wins have been hard to come by for the Cougars this year, and successful seasons have been elusive in Trent’s time at WSU. When he came to Washington State, the Cougars were just one year removed from three consecutive 10-win seasons. Now they have put together their first 10-loss season since 1970.
“It’s been a rough year,” Trent said of the 1-10, 0-8 in Pac-10-play season.
But it hasn’t destroyed Trent’s feelings about the game.
“If you love this game enough, you’ll find reasons to keep going, to keep playing hard. There’s a lot of guys on this team that have no problem going out there and giving it all they’ve got.”