EVERETT – It might be a bit harsh to say that Gary Rogers and Cole Morgan used to hate each other.
But at this point last summer, the quarterbacking duo felt something well short of friendship.
“We were kind of rivals,” said Morgan, a recent graduate of Ballard High School. “We were competing for scholarships at every school.”
Coincidentally, they both chose the same school. Now that Morgan and Kamiak’s Rogers are on their way to Washington State University, they’ve become as close as crimson and gray.
“We might be competing for the starting job one day,” Rogers said, “but we’ll always be friends.”
The friendship began to grow during the past few days, when the quarterbacks roomed together at an Everett hotel in preparation for today’s East-West All-Star Game. By the end of the week, Rogers and Morgan were nearly joined at the shoulder.
“Now that we know we’re going to be teammates,” Morgan joked, “we’ve got to be friends.”
Neither player will see any playing time at WSU in 2004. Rogers is slated to redshirt this fall. Morgan will grayshirt, meaning he won’t officially enroll until winter quarter and will get an extra year of eligibility.
While they watch teammates get all the playing time over the next year or two, Rogers and Morgan are certain to get closer.
“He’s a great guy, and I look forward to spending some years with him,” Rogers said. “He’s a good guy, and he’s talented too.”
While the West squad has the high-profile quarterbacks, the East team has a pair of slingers that will be attending smaller schools. Evergreen’s Kyle Miller will play at Portland State in the fall, and Eisenhower’s Brett Gordon will attend Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma.
Gordon, whose high school team won a combined seven games over the past two seasons, is looking forward to playing for a Division III powerhouse.
“I’m just excited to be on a winning team for once,” Gordon said. “High school wasn’t that great because we didn’t win very often.”
Rogers will start for the West squad today, while Miller will get the nod for the East. All four quarterbacks should see equal playing time.
Game day is here: The players and coaches went through some final preparations Friday before today’s 1 p.m. game.
The West squad will have at least 31 players, two fewer than originally expected. Mariner lineman Anthony O’Dell is being held out of the game due to a broken finger, while Ferndale linebacker Riley Cornelson is questionable due to a sore back.
The East is healthy but will be missing star Lincoln of Tacoma linebacker Jason Bedford, who did not show up for practices this week.
Although it’s only an exhibition game, East coach Doug Preston of Wenatchee was painting his team as the underdog Friday.
“We’ve got some really good kids, but they’ve got all the storied guys going to big schools,” Preston said. “We’ve got some bigger kids, but for every one of ours, it seems like they’ve got five or six.”
Big names: Today’s game includes 51 players who have committed to play at four-year schools.
Among them are 24 who will play at Division I colleges. The list of universities is pretty impressive: Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Duke.
O’Dea wide receiver Chancellor Young, who was recruited by UW, WSU, UCLA and Notre Dame, turned down higher-profile schools to play football for the Blue Devils.
“It’s the best fit for me,” said Young, whose father Charlie went to USC before going on to play in the NFL. “It’s an opportunity to play right away, and the environment was right. It seemed to be the right fit right from the start. When I went on my recruiting visit, I said to myself, ‘This is where I’m going to be.’ “
Quick slants: West’s starting backfield will include three players from the Western Conference: Kamiak’s Rogers, Jackson running back Johnie Kirton and Oak Harbor fullback Blake Ward. … Tickets still remain for today’s game, which will be played at Everett Memorial Stadium. They can be purchased at the box office for $6.