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Baldwin: Eagles’ goals not one game at a time

Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin works sideline in Saturday’s win against Illinois State. (Tyler Tjomsland)
Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin works sideline in Saturday’s win against Illinois State. (Tyler Tjomsland)

Football coaches don’t always take it one game at a time.

Sometimes you have to think a little bigger; championships will do that.

Eastern Washington’s unabashed goal this year was a repeat trip to Frisco, Texas, for the Football Championship Subdivision national championship game. It means that much, on the field and on campus.

“It’s huge,” coach Beau Baldwin said. “Our goals and aspirations are big every year, and we think and we’re not afraid to say that.

“I don’t necessarily emphasize one game at a time. Our goals are to have a chance to win it.”

No wonder. The 2010 national title came with some nice dividends, including higher attendance, an impetus for better facilities, and, Baldwin said, a boost to recruiting that’s already paying off.

“You can’t put any dollar value on it,” Baldwin added.

The same goes for Eastern’s place in the FCS landscape. In the last five years, five different teams have won the title; eight different schools have appeared in the title game.

On the road again

Last week at this time, Bobcat Nation was giddy at the prospect of Sam Houston State flying from balmy Huntsville, Texas (75 degrees at the time) to Bozeman (33 and snowing).

The Bearkats flew into the Rockies, marveled at weather, checked into their hotel – and promptly had a massive snowball fight.

“We’re just excited to be out there for a football game,” said quarterback Brian Bell, who spent the next night throwing darts at the Montana State defense in a 34-16 quarterfinal win.

Just another road game for the Bearkats, who’ve played just four games in Huntsville this season. Saturday’s game at Eastern will be their 10th road game of the season.

“Your focus has to be straight, and in the playoffs, Montana State had a great crowd,” Sam Houston coach Willie Fritz said. “We were focused, like we have been all season.”

The Bearkats are 6-3 in the road, but two of those came to FBS schools Baylor and Texas A&M. The other was a 24-20 setback at Southland Conference rival Central Arkansas.

What is a Bearkat?

Sam Houston Normal Institute’s sports teams were originally nicknamed the Normals. When the Texas Legislature changed the name of Sam Houston Normal Institute to Sam Houston State Teachers College, the term “Normal” became outdated.

The replacement was Bearkats, though early references spelled the name either “Bearcats,” “Bear Cats,” or “Bearkats.” A bearcat is said by some to be a kinkajou, a small, golden, carnivorous mammal that resides in the jungles of South America.

The name came from a popular local saying of the time, “Tough as a Bearkat!” Since the animal in the saying was thought more mythical than real, the spelling settled upon was “Bearkat.”

Rally planned at Reese

Eastern will hold a rally Friday for the football team. The 2 p.m. event at Reese Court is expected to last 30 minutes and is open to the public.


In this week’s Sagarin Ratings, Eastern is fifth in FCS and 82nd overall. Ahead of the Eagles are fellow semifinalists North Dakota State, Sam Houston State and Georgia Southern, plus South Dakota. … Junior wide receiver Brandon Kaufman is on the cusp of the FCS record for single-season receiving yards. Kaufman has 1,635 yards, just 77 yards short of the record set in 1998 by Delaware’s Eddie Conti.