All those months of work finally paid off Thursday.
One day after taking the reins of Eastern Washington athletic department, Lynn Hickey closed a deal with Central Washington that completes the Eagles’ 2018 football schedule.
Eastern will open the season Sept. 1 at Roos Field against the Division II Wildcats, giving the Eagles five home games in an 11-game schedule.
“We are excited for our team and fans to have our schedule finalized and play Central Washington,” Hickey said.
Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m.
“It’s nice to get our 11th game scheduled, and even better to be able to play at home,” Eastern coach Aaron Best said Thursday afternoon.
Anticipation will be high, and it won’t be a game the Eagles take lightly.
Eight years ago, a national championship-winning Eastern team barely held off the Wildcats, 35-32. In their previous meeting, in 2006, a 3-8 Eastern team fell to CWU 21-14.
CWU, led by Eastern transfer quarterback Reilly Hennessey, is coming off one of the best seasons in school history.
While sweeping the Great Northern Athletic Conference, the Wildcats eventually reached No.1 in the national rankings. However, they lost at home in the first round of the playoffs to Texas A&M Commerce, 34-31 in double overtime.
Along the way, Hennessey completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,551 yards, 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
The Wildcats lose several key players to graduation, but return Hennessey, who was Eastern’s top backup for the better part of two seasons, in 2015 behind Jordan West and 2016 behind Gage Gubrud.
Two years ago, Hennessey came off the bench to lead the Eagles to a come-from-behind win over Northern Iowa, 34-30.
However, the Camas, Wash., native saw little action the rest of the year as the more mobile Gubrud led the Eagles to a Big Sky Conference title and a deep run in the FCS playoffs.
Seeking more playing time, Hennessey transferred to Central in the spring of 2017.
Eastern is 34-30-4 all-time against CWU. Once NAIA rivals in the Evergreen Conference, the Eagles and Wildcats have not played each other since 2010, and have met just seven times since EWU moved to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (then I-AA) in 1984.
The addition of Central finalizes the team’s season ticket packages and prices for tailgating passes. Fans now have until May 4 to renew their season tickets online, via phone or in-person.
Those who have already renewed will receive a communication from the EWU Athletics Ticket Office with billing information.
Remaining season tickets will go on sale to the general public on June 4.