Thursday, November 15, 2007


Big Weekend

Big sports weekend at Eastern. Men's and women's basketball, volleyball, soccer and of course the last football game that could determine if the Eagles are in the playoffs. Topping it all off, 12 seniors will be honored before Saturday's game.
Here's a story from the SR:

End of the line
Eagles Hanni, Alfred reflect upon career in the trenches

Steve Bergum
Staff writer
November 15, 2007

As a former offensive lineman who played in college and the pros, Paul Wulff has developed a deep appreciation for those big hogs who clock in each Saturday to bang heads and bodies with their fellow behemoths in the obscurity of college football's trenches.

But even Wulff, now in his eighth season as Eastern Washington University's head coach, admits to being a bit blasé when it comes to fully grasping the accomplishments and contributions of Matt Alfred and Rocky Hanni, who will be among 12 EWU seniors playing – in all likelihood – their final game at Woodward Field on Saturday.

Alfred, a 6-foot-3, 300-pounder from Gig Harbor, Wash., and Hanni, a 6-5, 290-pounder from Sumner, Wash., have been mainstays in the Eagles' offensive line since they were redshirt freshmen and have combined for 85 starts in the last four seasons.

Alfred will take a string of 43 consecutive starts into Saturday's Big Sky Conference showdown and regular-season finale against Weber State, which kicks off at 2:05 p.m. Hanni will look to make it back onto the field after missing last week's 52-24 romp past Northern Arizona with a sprained ankle.

"It's remarkable, it really is," Wulff said, when asked about the durability of Alfred and Hanni, who were both named to last year's All-Big Sky Conference second team. "You tend to take guys like them for granted, sometimes, because of their consistency and because you know they're going to be there for the team each and every Saturday.

"It's not an easy thing to do, but both of those guys are tough guys. Both of them had nagging injuries during their careers and continued not only to play through them, but to play at a high enough level to really help our football team."

Alfred, who was named to College Sporting News' preseason NCAA Football Championship Subdivision All-America team, made his first start in the fourth game of the 2004 season, when the Eagles advanced to the second round of the FCS playoffs, and has not missed a start since.

Hanni, started 11 of 13 games in 2004 and hadn't missed a game since – until last Saturday.

"It really started their redshirt freshman year when they both got the opportunity to start and prove themselves as young players, which, obviously, they both did," Wulff said.

Both players admitted to taking pride in having become such integral parts of Eastern's program and said showing up for work on such a regular basis has not been as big a grind as it might seem.

"It's all gone by way too fast," Hanni said. "It seems like just yesterday when we were freshmen that our seniors were doing their Senior Day. It's kind of weird, now, to think we're already in our fifth season and going into our Senior Day, and what could be our last game."

With a win over Weber State (5-5 overall, 4-3 in the Big Sky), the 15th-ranked Eagles (7-3, 5-2) could earn an at-large berth in the FCS playoffs, and both Hanni and Alfred seem confident about playing on past Saturday.

Both realize they have precious few game day opportunities – and the chance to pull an Eagles jersey over their heads – remaining.

"It seems kind of strange," Alfred said about the impending end to his collegiate career. "It's one of those things that when you're going through it – especially when you're a first-year or second-year guy out there practicing double-days – where you think,

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?