EAST-WEST FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Rival coaches have a history going back to college

  • Wed Jun 23rd, 2010 8:26pm
  • Sports

By Mike Cane Herald Writer

EVERETT — Every time Mark Keel looks at the scar on his right forearm, he thinks of Mark Stewart.

In the early 1980s Keel and Stewart were Pac-10 football rivals. Keel played tight end for the University of Arizona. Stewart was an outside linebacker for the University of Washington.

They played against each other twice. In one of the games Stewart tackled Keel particularly hard. Stewart’s helmet slammed into Keel’s right arm. The impact caused a nasty cut that eventually turned into a scar.

Keel tracked down a photo of the play that shows Stewart delivering the punishing hit.

“I always tell him I’m going to show it to him,” said Keel. “I think I’m going to get to show it to him this week some time.”

Keel and Stewart, who both went on to play in the NFL, are in Everett this week for the Class 3A/4A East-West All-Star Football Game. Keel is an assistant coach for the East team and Stewart is the West team head coach. They are working at practices with many of the state’s best Class of 2010 high school players in preparation for Saturday’s game at Everett Memorial Stadium.

Keel’s primary coaching gig is as head coach at Central Kitsap High, where he will begin his 12th season this fall. Meanwhile, Stewart is going into his 11th year as Meadowdale High’s head coach. After their playing days ended, Keel and Stewart got to know each other well by attending the same coaching clinics.

Has coaching opposing squads this week rekindled any of the head-to-head competition they experienced back in college?

“We definitely are having fun (but) we understand it’s not about us,” said Keel, who played eight years of pro football, including a three-week stint with the Seahawks. “The competitive nature, I’m sure, will be there (during the East-West Game) Saturday, but right now we’re just having a good time.”

Making a good impression

Blessed with talent-packed rosters, Stewart, the West team head coach, and Dave Miller, the East team head coach, heaped praise on their respective squads after practice Tuesday evening. “It’s just a blast. It’s a lot of fun working with them,” Stewart said of the West players. “They’re a high-character group and a pretty feisty group and they like having fun together. It’s amazing how quickly these guys bond.”

Miller said about the East players: “They were coached well at the programs they came from, obviously. They’ve got great attitudes. You (correct) them one time and it’s fixed. They don’t make many mistakes.”

More coach connections

Keel, the East team assistant, graduated from Clover Park High (Lakewood, Pierce Co.) in 1979. East team head coach Dave Miller graduated from Clover Park in 1977. East team assistant coach Willis Freeman is also a Clover Park grad. Miller and Freeman coach football at Lakes High, part of the Clover Park School District.

At long last

Archbishop Murphy football coach Dave Ward was at Everett Memorial Tuesday. He watched his nephew, quarterback/defensive back Travis Ward of Mt. Spokane High, practice with the East team. Because of schedule conflicts and the distance between them, Dave never saw Travis, a Pacific Lutheran University recruit, play a high school game in person. But on Saturday Ward will finally get to see his nephew compete.

Mike Cane: mcane@heraldnet.com. Check out the prep sports blog Double Team at www.heraldnet.com/doubleteam.