By David Krueger Herald Writer
Just because their days on the Marysville Pilchuck football team are done, doesn’t mean Alex Gray, Deion Stell and Dante Fields have seen the last of each other.
With friends and family in attendance, the trio signed National Letters of Intent to play at Central Washington University next season during a ceremony at Marysville Pilchuck High School on Wednesday morning. Also signing at the event were Tomahawks quarterback Jake Luton (University of Idaho) and soccer players Amanda Klep (Concordia University) and Mackinzie Nolte (Central Washington).
“It’ll be nice having Deion and Dante there. That’ll be cool that we’re all going there together,” Gray said. “I think having people around that I know will kind of help the adjustment.”
All three sent film to Central, with Fields and Stell the first to get it to the Central coaches. Gray sent film in at a later date, but still impressed the Wildcats’ staff enough to invite him, along with Fields, out for a visit last week.
Gray and Fields, who are next-door neighbors, plan on being roommates and staying close at Central next season.
“I’m really excited,” Fields said. “It’s probably one of the best opportunities I’ve had in high school. It’s crazy how it happened.”
Fields has played football since seventh grade — and has moved positions almost every year since. As a senior and junior, Fields lined up as a defensive end and tight end, after previously playing guard, center and guard again in earlier seasons.
Central coaches say they want the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Fields to play tight end. Fields, a first-team All-Wesco 3A North selection on the defensive line, doesn’t particularly mind where he plays in college.
“Honestly, I’m just really excited to have an opportunity like this,” he said.
Gray had been considering continuing his baseball career after high school, but a broken hand scared off some attention after he talked to schools like Seattle University, Gonzaga and the University of Washington.
“I thought for sure my ticket to college would be with baseball. I’m still thinking about it, too,” Gray said. “But football’s my first love. I was just really fortunate that they’re offering me what they are. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The wide receiver/outside linebacker said he was excited and anxious to get the papers signed.
“I don’t know if nervous is the word,” said Gray, a first-team all-league linebacker. “I’m anxious to do it.”
Stell, the third member of the group going to Central, proved to be a speedy wide receiver/running back for the Tomahawks, while also showing potential as a kick returner. Stell ran back the opening kickoff of Marysvile Pilchuck’s 3A Quad-District win over Bishop Blanchet for a touchdown.
The Tomahawks went on to win the game 48-21 and advance to the state tournament for the third time in the past four seasons.
Marysville Pilchuck’s senior quarter back Jake Luton signed his letter of intent to attend the University of Idaho. Luton committed to the Vandals in October and was excited to “get the playbooks and the workout plans and all that and officially be a Vandal.”
Luton, the first-team, All-Wesco 3A North quarterback, said that although he never wavered from his commitment — like some recruits do — he was pretty nervous leading up to the signing ceremony, knowing what a big deal it was.
“I think that there’s a little bit of nervousness that goes with it,” Luton said. “It’s probably one of the biggest days of my life so far. I’m excited though. I’m excited to make it official.
“It’s just the craziest feeling, from getting the offer to committing to finally (signing). Thinking back to all the practices from when I was six years old to two-a-days is crazy.”
Officially, Luton signed the papers — saying he was so nervous he “almost messed up my signature” — and faxed them Idaho early in the day. But he still got to partake in the celebration with his teammates and classmates at Marysville Pilchuck.
The quarterback said he was excited for Gray, Fields and Stell’s upcoming journey to Central. And while he wishes he could keep playing with them, he’s happy to be headed to Idaho.
“I’m really happy for them to finally get the offer,” Luton said. “Those guys — and even a couple more guys on the team — should really be getting offers places.”
The group of football players had to quickly sign their papers so they could hurry up and carpool down to Seattle for the Seahawks’ victory parade Wednesday morning.
Also signing for the Tomahawks was Klep and Nolte, both of whom were All-Wesco 3A North first-team forwards this season while leading the Marysville Pilchuck girls soccer team to state for the first time in school history.
Klep is also a member of the Tomahawks’ basketball team, as well as the track and field squad with Nolte.
“I’m just excited,” Luton said. “For everybody. I’m excited for all my teammates. They’ve worked really hard. I’m excited for Mackinzie Nolte and Amanda Klep. It’s just a great event.”