By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
EVERETT — Trash talk started pretty early this week, says Skyview High School football coach Steve Kizer, who is in town to coach the team from the east side of the state in the annual East-West All-Star Game at Everett Memorial Stadium this afternoon.
“They caught us on the way in,” Kizer said of the West team Monday afternoon, after the opening practice of the week. “And it’s not just the West — it goes both ways.”
One day later, it reached a whole new level.
Both teams were touring the Naval station when Chiawana High School cornerback Miquiyah Zamora, a member of the East team, heard something unexpected.
“I think one of those West guys barked at me,” Zamora recalled two days later. “I was like, what? It kind of freaked me out.”
East-West All-Star Football Game, Saturday, 1 p.m. at Everett Memorial Stadium
In a game that’s mostly split on geographical lines — the East team includes players from Tacoma and Vancouver, while the West is mostly comprised of players from King and Snohomish counties — it didn’t take long for players to start drawing lines in the sand.
Several players from the West team pointed toward last year’s game, a 19-0 East win in a game comprised of entirely different rosters, as a motivating factor this afternoon.
East linebacker Alex Jacot talked about his team having “a chip on our shoulder” because of what he perceived as an overlooked group of players from that side of the state.
“They’re the West guys, from Seattle, and they think they’re just going to come out and smash on us,” said Jacot, a linebacker from Central Valley High School in Spokane. “They think they’re the best ballers in the state.”
The East-West rivalry is as old as the invention of the map, and this year’s players seem to have taken the geographical separation to heart.
“It’s a rivalry,” said Arlington tight end Bo Brummel, a member of the West squad. “Once you get here and they split up the two sides, it becomes a rivalry. You don’t talk to anybody from the East side; you just wait until the game.”
Said Oak Harbor’s Josiah Miller: “We all want to win. We lost last year, so we’ll have to step it up.”
Lake Stevens quarterback Jake Nelson said a victory over an East team that includes a player and several coaches from the same Skyview squad that knocked the Vikings out of the Class 4A state tournament would help ease the pain of that loss.
Meadowdale linebacker Corwin Perkins has a similar thirst for revenge when it comes to Camas, which knocked his Mavericks out of the 3A state tournament.
“I know I want to hit the Camas guy,” Perkins said, “because they smacked us in the quarterfinals.”
But other than a few personal rivalries and some natural East-West banter, it’s mostly about getting another chance to compete. The players stayed in the same hotel and attended a dinner together, and there don’t seem to be any hard feelings as another installment of the all-star game arrives.
Said Monroe linebacker Jordan Moore of the West team: “It’s not like: ‘Oh, I hate these guys’ or anything like that. It’s just a friendly rivalry.”
Edmonds-Woodway defensive end Jordan Barnes had similar feelings, saying the only interaction he’s experienced has been good-natured.
“Everyone’s pretty classy,” he said. “Even the guys from our own team who I thought were going to be thugs, they’re all really cool. None of them are trying to be the macho man and intimidating everyone. Everyone’s been great.”
It could be said that this rivalry has more bark than bite.
Just ask Zamora, who still hasn’t forgotten the treatment he received at the Naval station.
“He looked at me and growled,” he said of the West player who barked at him. “He was looking at me like I was a piece of meat. I was kind of freaked out, like: ‘I’m not making eye contact with you.’”
Come Saturday, there will be nowhere to hide. And Zamora will be among those who are excited about the chance to represent their part of the state.
“It’s going to be like all these teammates I have right now have been my teammates for the last four years,” he said when asked what the feeling will be like for the 1 p.m. kickoff. “A lot of our high school careers didn’t finish the way we envisioned it — they ended with a loss — and this is a great opportunity to come out with a W.”