It certainly didn't take long for the East players to warm up to each other.
During the first four days of practices, the East has come together like a group of longtime friends, displaying the energy, passion and teamwork that often takes weeks or months -- not days -- to develop.
"We played against each other, and now we're playing together, and we just want to make it fun," East linebacker Alex Jacot said Thursday, two days before the annual all-star game takes place at Everett's Memorial Stadium. "We don't want to be out here not having any fun, so we're just trying to make it fun for everybody."
The team chemistry has been especially evident on the defensive side of the ball, where former rivals are now slapping each other's helmets in celebration with every play made in practice. Each swarming tackle is followed by an impromptu huddle and a Finding Nemo-inspired cheer of "Shark bait! Ooh-ha-ha!"
The origins of the celebratory cheer came from East defensive lineman Drew Sharkey, who joined with former Ferris High teammate Kurtis Karstetter to inspire the East defense.
"You look at the Ferris kids, and they're a little bit not all there," said East teammate Miquiyah Zamora, a cornerback from Chiawana High in Pasco. "They like to hit. They like that contact. I love it when they start yelling, I start feeding off it, then I start yelling, then the safeties start yelling. It's like a momentum, electric thing."
Through it all, players who used to hate each other are now coming together like longtime friends.
"The Ferris guys, we played them in a playoff game, and we hated them," said Jacot, who played at Central Valley of Spokane. "And now we're rooming with them, and we realize they're just like us. They're just football players trying to make it through the day, just like we are. It's a lot of fun getting to know them."
Jacot added that the camaraderie and energy that are apparent to anyone who attends an East practice should help his team come Saturday afternoon.
"It's going to help us a lot," he said. "We're not just moseying around playing football singly. We're here as a team. Over there (on the West practice field), they're all individuals, like individual superstars. Here, we're playing as a team really well -- and it will help us out a lot in the game."
While most of the players at this weekend's all-star game are heading off to play at the next level, not all of them have plans for the future set in stone.
Monroe running back/linebacker Jordan Moore said he'll decide after Saturday's game whether to accept a scholarship to Portland State or a dual football/track scholarship at Dickinson State.
"I have family in Portland, and it's a little bit closer, so that's definitely appealing," said Moore, who will play linebacker in Saturday's all-star game but expects to play running back in college. "But Dickinson State is offering me a track scholarship, too. So it's something I have to think about."
Moore is one of the few players who have yet to decide on a school, as he was reminded Thursday when Jackson linebacker Corwin Perkins overheard him mulling his decision and quipped: "Dude, Signing Day was May 1!"
Wherever they want him
Part of the difficulty for coaches in the annual all-star game is figuring out which players to play at which positions. Not all of the all-stars come away satisfied.
Edmonds-Woodway's Jordan Barnes is lining up at defensive end, even though he'd prefer to be at his natural position of outside linebacker.
"I like linebacker a lot," he said.
The 6-3, 200-pound Barnes is one of the bigger linebackers on the West team, and he was a defensive end before converting to linebacker as a senior at Edmonds-Woodway, so he was a natural to make the move.
But he's still getting used to it.
When asked Thursday what he misses most about playing linebacker, the Pacific Lutheran-bound Barnes smiled and said: "Not getting to tackle."
What's in a name?
The combined rosters of the East and West teams include one Smith, one Johnson, one Moore, one White and one Miller.
Oh, and two Hordyks.
Arlington receiver Colton Hordyk and Bethel quarterback Justin Hordyk are both all-stars but might not even be related. The pair met once before this week but couldn't trace any similar family lines.
"I just don't know," Colton Hordyk said when asked if they're related. "I'm sure I'll try (to figure it out) one of these days."
The Arlington High graduate said he's pretty sure there's a link somewhere along the line, adding that he's never before met a Hordyk who wasn't related.
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