Article and photo by Matthew O. Stephens
The energy was high for the first Eastern Washington scrimmage of the 2022 football season that was held on August 19.
The offense has work to do according to Head Coach Aaron Best, but the momentum seemed to be there during the initial scrimmage. The Eagles racked up 3 touchdowns and 2 field goals totaling 27 points in the first skirmish of the season.
Coach Best explained how he didn’t feel or see the energy or consistency that he wanted to see with the team during that scrimmage.
“I thought that we were consistently inconsistent,” Best said. “I don’t know if it was because the defense was making plays or the fact that the offense wasn’t just trying to make plays themselves. We’ll see the film, and I thought the energy lacked. There’s no reason or excuse for that and we need to come out here and compete.”
The offensive numbers showed some stability in the ground game, but the passing game seemed to struggle in a couple areas. Several wayward snaps led to lost yards and situations in which the quarterback was hurried.
“There just wasn’t any flow,” Best continued. “Even when we did make a play it seemed like we got backed up with a bad snap, sack or a dropped ball and we will be better than that and continue to work on that.”
Eastern Washington had 250 passing yards on 22 catches and rushed the ball 33 times for 207 yards on the day. The 435 yards of total offense came from a balanced game plan that spread the ball across the field.
All three touchdowns came from the rushing game, and running back Davante Smith scored the first with a 15 yard touchdown run early in the day. Davante Smith ran the ball five times for a total of 49 yards and the one score.
Another Smith was a rushing powerhouse as well, and that was Eagle running back Micah Smith from Spanaway, Washington. He ran for 74 yards on eight attempts, capping his efforts off by powering through two defenders on a two-yard touchdown in the second half of the scrimmage.
“The highlight of our offense were those running backs, and when they got their carries they did a lot with those carries,” Best explained. “It’s a competitive group and they all want turns running the ball. The best way to get turns running the ball is to be productive in the situations we put them in.”
Spokane local Silas Perreiah has been recovering from some injuries and took three carries for the Eagles that ended with a three-yard touchdown. According to Perreiah, he feels good about being back on the field.
“It’s really good to be back out here on the field with my teammates and coaches,” Perreiah said. “It is good to be successful as an offense as well.”
Coach Best discussed his excitement in seeing Perreiah working through his rehabilitation efforts.
“He’s done a good job over this last year rehabbing from his lower extremity injury,” said Best. “I didn’t really expect to see him today based on what he has been able to do in practice, but he is a fighter and worked his way back to this opportunity. Super excited about Silas and his work ethic because not only will he be a factor on offense but also special teams as well.”
Perreiah went on to explain that the rushing efforts for the team come from solid teamwork and supporting each other through practice.
“Coach A.P. (Aaron Prier) has been really good for us and we’re all just really supportive of each other,” Perreiah added. “We all want each other to win and to do well, and I think that’s the biggest thing is that we are all fans of each other.”
Kicker Seth Harrison knocked a pair of field goals through the uprights. Harrison made one from 51 yards, and another for 35 yards. Wyatt Hawkins had three extra points during the scrimmage as well.
Without Eric Barriere, the quarterback question remains, although a couple of names lead the conversation. Gunner Talkington backed Barriere last season, and has worked hard and made a lot of good plays, according to the coach.
During the scrimmage however, it was redshirt freshman quarterback Kekoa Visperas that led in both passing attempts and yards. Visperas went 12-19 for 140 yards through the air, and added 46 yards rushing on six attempts.
10 different receivers had catches during the game, and were led by Malaki Roberson who had five catches for 66 yards. Jakobie James and Nolan Ulm both brought in four receptions each as well.
Defensive lineman Sean Skladany, a redshirt freshman out of Gig Harbor, Washington made his presence felt on the opposite side of the ball as he recovered two fumbles and forced one of them. Skladany hurried the quarterback a couple of times as well while also tallying a sack during the scrimmage.
The defense had four quarterback sacks on the day, showing a strong defensive front. Linebacker Derek Tommasini from Eagle, Idaho led the team in tackles with nine, while four other defensive players accounted for six tackles each.
The defense forced one interception, and defensive back Zane Thornton came down with that. The secondary also made a couple of key plays to break up touchdown passes.
This scrimmage was the first of two before the Eagles host their first game of the 2022-2023 college football season.
The season opener is September 3 at 1 p.m. The showdown will be at Roos Field where they will face Tennessee State University.