Eagles face Grizzlies on senior day

Football celebrating 20 seniors at Roos Field


Quarterback Vernon Adams at practice

By Sam Deal, Sports Editor

The fifth-ranked Eagles will take on No. 11 University of Montana Grizzlies on Saturday at Roos Field for senior day.

The Eagles, who graduate 20 seniors, are looking to stamp their ticket to the playoffs and beat their biggest rival in a game that is sure to have a playoff atmosphere.

“You can’t it lie, Montana is always huge,” said quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. “They bring so many fans and try to make it as loud as possible. We’ve got the extra stands; it is going to be a big week.”

Adams returned to practice Tuesday for the first time since breaking his foot against Idaho State on Oct. 4. It will be a game-time decision on whether he starts over sophomore Jordan West.

West has gone 3-1 as a starter in Adams’ absence and has improved in each start, most recently passing for 314 yards and two touchdowns in the homecoming victory over the University of North Dakota.

“My mindset is that I am starting this game,” said West. “If it comes to where [Adams] starts, I mean if he is ready, he is going to do it.”

Also giving the Eagles a boost on offense is senior captain Cory Mitchell, who returned last week against UND after breaking his collarbone in week three against Washington.

“He is a great leader,” said Adams of Mitchell. “It is huge getting him back, that speed on the outside. It just another weapon that teams have to worry about.”

The Eagles will need all the help they can get as they are set to take on one of the best defenses in the country. Led by defensive end Zach Wagenmann, the Grizzlies have allowed just 20.3 points per game and are No. 10 in FCS in turnover margin.

“The lifeblood of where they are this year is a credit to their defense,” said head coach Beau Baldwin. “They have made red-zone stops and have played some salty defense and have been able to win some low-scoring battles.”

This game will have major implications on the Big Sky Conference title as both teams currently have just one loss in conference and are joined by four other Big Sky schools with only one conference loss.

The winner of Saturdays matchup will be in the driver’s seat to claim the conference title with FCS playoffs beginning at the end of this month.

“They are one of the better offensive units we face all year in our conference and we expect it is going to be an absolute battle,” said Baldwin.



Things to watch for

  •         Senior Ronnie Hamlin’s next tackle will give him 432 on his career and tie the all-time EWU record.
  •         The Eagles are putting their 15-game home win streak and 17-game November win streak on the line.
  •         All six one loss Big Sky teams are in action this weekend.
  •         Wide receiver Cooper Kupp needs just 64 yards to move to fifth on EWU’s single season leaders list, in doing so he would pass current wide receiver coach Nic Edwards.