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Eastern seniors look to go out in style

Nicholas Edwards is one of 16 seniors to be honored. (Tyler Tjomsland)
Nicholas Edwards is one of 16 seniors to be honored. (Tyler Tjomsland)

The emotions will be mixed but no less intense today when Eastern Washington celebrates Senior Day for one of the most successful football classes in school history.

“It’s going to be a whirlwind of emotions,” said linebacker Grant Williams, whose brother, Adam, will fly across the country to join Grant and his parents for the Eagles’ game against UC Davis.

It won’t be easy saying goodbye to 16 players who’ve won 34 games in four years, while going 23-7 in the Big Sky Conference and were a major part of the 2010 national championship.

“It’s going to be emotional and bittersweet. Everything’s gone by pretty fast,” offensive tackle Will Post said. “And it’s our last home game.”

Post paused to regroup.

“It’s our last guaranteed home game.”

That’s because the Eagles are 7-2 overall, 5-1 in the Big Sky and on course to return to Roos Field for a second-round FCS playoff game should they win out against UC Davis and next week at Portland State.

For that reason alone, no one is quite ready to say goodbye.

“It’s been a good ride, but we’ve got more football games after this,” said senior safety Jeff Minnerly, in pads for the first time since suffering a collarbone injury six weeks ago.

Undoubtedly, Minnerly was speaking for the entire group of 16 seniors.

“It’s already been an impressive run, with the standard they’ve set,” coach Beau Baldwin said of the players who were his first signees when he became head coach in 2008. “But they have an opportunity to do some things that no class has ever done.”

That would be another deep run in the playoffs and the chance to return to Frisco, Texas, for the national title game.

“I think my emotions will be fine,” said wide receiver Nick Edwards, a major contributor in 2010 and an All-American last season. “Late in the year we always seem to be rolling.”

The Eagles played one of their most complete games of the season in rolling past then-No. 16 Cal Poly 34-17 last week, and should be favored today against Big Sky newcomer UC Davis. The Aggies are 3-6 overall, 2-4 in the conference.

The Aggies, in their last season under 20-year head coach Bob Biggs, have lost by eight points or less to three nationally ranked teams – Cal Poly (28-20), Montana State (48-41) and South Dakota State (12-8).

The Aggies’ three wins include 41-3 over Azusa Pacific of the NAIA, a 37-13 home win over Weber State, and a 52-45 victory at last-place Idaho State.

UC Davis has one advantage in today’s game: coming in off a bye following a 49-21 loss to Portland State two weeks ago.

The Aggies rank 11th out of 13 Big Sky teams in total offense, averaging 365.8 yards per game.

Aggies junior QB Randy Wright has completed 156 of 262 passes for 10 TDs with 11 interceptions.