By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
For 44 of the 48 years that the Washington State East-West All-State football game has been played, it has been held at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Tonight, the game will be played at just its fourth location ever, Lions Field in Moses Lake. The kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Though the game is not in Snohomish County, the county will be well represented. Of the 30-plus players on the West roster, nearly half are from Snohomish County and one — offensive lineman Dayne Herron — is from Oak Harbor.
What’s more, the West squad will be led by Lake Stevens head coach Tom Tri. Tri served as an assistant at the 2008 East-West game, but this is his first stint as head coach.
The coaches arrived in Moses Lake on Sunday and the players reported Monday. Tri said he’s liked what he’s seen from the local players throughout the week.
“I’m impressed,” he said. “I bet half of our team is Wesco kids. I know that we have had a reputation in the Wesco as being somewhat mediocre in recent years, but I look at the talent of the kids and the kids that they are playing against and you would not notice that Wesco is down or Wesco has mediocre kids based on the athletes and the attitudes and the efforts that I’m seeing from our kids.”
With so many Wesco players on the team, it was difficult for Tri to pick a few who have stood out in practice, but the first name he mentioned was Skylor Elgarico of Arlington. Elgarico took over as the Eagles’ quarterback early last season and led them to the playoffs, where they shocked No. 6 Kentwood 21-14 to earn a state berth.
While many of the players in the East-West game played on both sides of the ball in high school, Tri said most will play one way tonight. Elgarico is an exception. He will play strong safety primarily, but also is scheduled to see some action at quarterback in the Wildcat formation.
The West team will use a lot of spread offense, something Tri said has pleased Marysville Pilchuck wide receiver Kyle Nobach.
“He’s got good speed and good hands,” Tri said. “He’s having a heck of a lot of fun running the spread offense. I notice he’s always got a smile on his face.”
Leading the West offense will be Kentlake quarterback Steffin Church and Glacier Peak quarterback Chris Becerra. Tri said Church likely will start, but the two will split time at the position.
“They both look good,” Tri said. “They are both really good quarterbacks. We are just going to rotate them and whoever’s got the hotter hand will probably play a little bit more than the other. No one has really emerged. They have both been just really solid.”
Becerra is one of three Glacier Peak players on the West team, joining running back Michael Palmer and defensive back Sean Elledge.
When asked which of the Wesco athletes could have the biggest impact on the game, Tri didn’t hesitate.
“(Linebacker) Michael Cummings from Meadowdale,” Tri said. “That kid, he’s legit. He’s strong fast and aggressive. You can tell that he was coached by Mark Stewart, who was obviously a linebacker. The way Michael looks and plays reminds me of Mark Stewart. “
Tri said Cummings has been the standout of a defensive unit that has practiced well throughout the week.
“I don’t know what the East has, but I know our defense is a lot more ahead of our offense right now based on our practices,” Tri said.
Coming up with a game plan in less than a week isn’t an easy task, but that has been the challenge for Tri.
“It’s a lot of work,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve slept much more than five hours since last Friday, which was the last day of school.
“It’s been fun, it really has. It’s quite a bit more work than being an assistant. I remember in ‘08 showing up and coaching my position group and having some fun with the kids and then coaching in the game and that was kind of my experience.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.