By Mike Cane Herald Writer
EVERETT — A football team never wants to be short-handed, or short-footed.
The latter problem led to a change in how rosters were compiled for this year’s Class 3A/4A East-West All-Star Football Game.
Last year in the East-West Game, which annually showcases many of the state’s best senior football players, the West team lost 13-12 at Everett Memorial Stadium. Although the victorious East squad played well and rallied to score the winning touchdown in the final minutes, the West squad felt that a glaring special-teams weakness — the West didn’t have a true kicker — created a huge disadvantage.
That won’t be the case in the 2010 game, which kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday. Based on feedback from last year’s West team coaches, East-West Game coordinator Paul Lawrence and the player selection committee made sure both teams have an experienced kicker who can handle kickoffs, field goals and extra-point attempts.
“Usually we’ve always had an athlete (who didn’t necessarily kick for his high school team) that could do that but (the 2009 West team) couldn’t kick off. They’d start defense in the hole, so we took their recommendation and added a kicker.”
The East team and West team kickers this year are, respectively, Central Valley’s Jake Miller and Stadium’s Dominick Vizzare. Miller (6-foot-4, 200 pounds), an Associated Press all-state first team kicker, plans to join the Washington State University team as a preferred walk-on. Vizzare (6-4, 230) was a 4A All-Narrows League first team kicker. He will compete for the San Diego State University rowing team and will try to walk on the football team, West head coach Mark Stewart said.
The West’s dynamic backs
Asked how he plans to use West team running backs Larry Dixon (Olympic High) and Trenton Pinson (Federal Way) Saturday, coach Stewart grinned. “In a game like this you get a lot of great kids and good kids. Then you get some of those guys who make you go, ‘Oh!’ They’re pretty talented,” Stewart said of Dixon and Pinson, who will both start in a split-back formation in the West team’s version of the pistol offense. Recruited to play for Army, Dixon (5-10, 215 pounds) is a powerful back who also has good quickness and speed. Meanwhile, Pinson (5-11, 185) “is probably the fastest guy I’ve ever seen in person,” Dixon said. Pinson signed with Eastern Washington University and is expected to play receiver for the Eagles.
Coaches announce captains
The East team captains, based on player voting and announced Thursday by coach Miller, are: quarterback Austin Dodge (Skyview), receiver Mitch Saylor (Union), nose guard Sione Potoa’e (Lakes) and defensive lineman Trevor Poole (Ferris). The West team captains, chosen by West coaches and announced Thursday by coach Stewart, are: receiver Cole Graves (Juanita), running back Larry Dixon (Olympic), lineman Coleton Langdon (Liberty) and linebacker Anthony DeMatteo (Skyline).
Stilly Cup rivals will unite
West team receiver Conner Varnell signed with Linfield College (McMinnville, Ore.), where the recent Arlington High graduate will team with Stanwood High alum Aaron Boehme, Linfield’s quarterback. This past season Boehme, then a junior, helped lead Linfield to the NCAA Division III semifinals. Arlington and Stanwood are longtime rivals whose football teams battle for the Stilly Cup trophy every fall. But now Varnell and Boehme will put aside that rivalry and work together in Linfield’s aerial attack.
East team cools off
It was sunny and about 70 degrees when the East and West teams had their second practice Thursday. The East players temporarily beat the heat by scarfing popsicles. “We thought we’d reward them a little bit for their hard work and give them a break,” coach Dave Miller said. “You know, they’re still kids even though a lot of them are going into the real world.”
Mike Cane: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the prep sports blog Double Team at www.heraldnet.com/doubleteam.