"I like having the game in Everett," said Lawrence, the game coordinator and former Everett High head football coach, "and throughout the state the general feeling that I get is that the other coaches like the game in Everett."
The annual East-West Game is at 1 p.m. Saturday at Everett Memorial Stadium. It features about 60 Class of 2009 high school football players who are considered among the best Class 3A and Class 4A competitors in Washington.
Players arrived in Everett Monday morning and checked in at the Holiday Inn, where they will stay all week. Following a busy morning and afternoon that included flexibility testing and team photos, the East and West teams had their first practice.
It was the official start of a hectic but rewarding week Lawrence always looks forward to. "The community has always been very supportive," he said, "and our facilities -- the Everett School District really helps us out. We've got great facilities at (Everett Memorial Stadium)."
The teams are scheduled to practice twice today, once at 9 a.m. and again at 3 p.m. They alternate between the main turf field and the grass practice field. Practices are open to the public.
In addition to all of the football action this week, players will be out in the city connecting with game sponsors and families. Following this morning's practice, the athletes will have lunch with the Rotary Club of Everett at Naval Station Everett.
Only one practice is scheduled for Wednesday, which will give players time for more non-football fun. They will go bowling at Evergreen Lanes and then split up into small groups to attend dinners hosted by local families.
Sizing up this year's collection of talent, Lawrence said he is impressed, as usual: "We've got an excellent group of high school football players. Not all of them are going on to Division I (programs) but a number of them are going on to play football."
One of the top stars is West team member Andru Pulu, a University of Washington recruit. Pulu is a 6-foot-3, 250-pound linebacker/lineman from Federal Way High School.
The West team head coach is longtime Mariner High coach John Ondriezek. His West squad includes 10 local athletes: Jackson's Taylor Cox, Everett's Jake Frauenholtz and David Andre, Meadowdale's Nasser Kyobe and A.J. Carroll, Lake Stevens' Nick Baker, Mariner's Jaren Saga, Marysville-Pilchuck's Ryan Sterley and Michael Stone, and Arlington's Jerod Baker.
Baker, a lineman who will play for Central Washington University, said he is looking forward to "meeting some of the best players in Washington and just getting to play with them, and meeting some of the other coaches in the area. All of that will make it worth it."
The East team head coach is Greg Kittrell of Moses Lake.
As of Monday morning, the West team had 31 players and the East squad had 30. About eight players were alternates added to the rosters over the past few months after other players backed out. All Washington State University recruits selected for the East-West Game, including prolific Skyline receiver Gino Simone, were unable to participate because of a scheduling conflict. WSU players must attend a mandatory orientation event this week in Pullman, said Jerry Parrish, secretary of the Washington State Coaches Association.
Asked about next year, Lawrence, the game coordinator, said the East-West Game will be back in Everett in 2010. The game will shift to Spokane in 2011, continuing the cycle that began nine years ago, he said.
Mike Cane: email@example.com. Check out the prep sports blog Double Team at www.heraldnet.com/doubleteam.
More High Schools Headlines
Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.