March 24, 2008
Maybe, for a change, it's the coaches who need to wear numbers.
The Eastern Washington University football team begins its four-week spring practice session on April 1 with 47 letter winners returning from last year's 9-4 season that included a quarterfinal appearance in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.
Those are the familiar faces in the Eagle program -- the coaching staff is a different matter. Five new coaches will don the red and white of Eastern after coming from nearby Central Washington where they wore red and black. Included is new Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin, who directed the Wildcats to a 10-3 record and its own quarterfinal appearance in the NCAA Division II Playoffs.
Baldwin is no stranger to EWU's program, and particularly the offense, which welcomes back six starters from one of the top-producing offensive units in the country. Baldwin spent four years as Eastern offensive coordinator before departing for CWU, and his past tutelage of quarterback Matt Nichols -- the 2007 Big Sky Conference Offensive MVP -- is a major reason why he returned. Baldwin takes the reins from former Eagle head coach Paul Wulff, who left to become head coach at Washington State University.
"Things have been built through recruiting, through character and through talent, and I know those can keep elevating," said Baldwin. "Those are the goals within this program. We want to keep taking it to another level and then another level. With the talent that is here, the coaches and the support of the administration, we are looking towards that goal."
Spring practices begin on Tuesday, April 1, and culminate with the annual Red-White Game on Saturday, April 26 at 2 p.m. at Woodward Field in Cheney, Wash. The final scrimmage is part of the annual Orland Killin Weekend, which includes the Coaches Golf Tournament on April 25 and the annual Killin Dinner, Dance and Auction following the Red-White Game on April 26. More information on Killin Weekend is available at: http://WWW.GOEAGS.COM.
Eastern will also have scrimmages at Woodward Field on April 12 and 19 at approximately 10:30 a.m. Eastern will conclude the first week of practices with a short scrimmage at about 11 a.m. on April 5 on the EWU Sports and Recreation Center practice fields.
Besides April 1, other Tuesday practices take place on April 8, April 15 and April 22. The team will also practice on three Wednesdays (April 2, April 9 and April 16), two Thursdays (April 17 and April 24) and two Fridays (April 4 and April 11). All practices begin at 3:20 p.m. on the EWU Sports and Recreation Center practice fields.
Baldwin, who was named as EWU's head coach on Jan. 4, has four coaching carryovers from EWU's staff from last year -- Joe Wade, Chris Hansen, Jeff Schmedding and Chris Peterson -- while Aaron Best returns after one year away. The new additions from CWU include John Graham, Ryan Sawyer, Torey Hunter and Nat Conley.
"I'm very excited about the group we've been able to assemble," said Baldwin. "Our staff is a combination of great coaches and great people. In working with them all in the past, I know they not only have the ability to coach and teach, but I also know they have the ability to relate to our student-athletes."
"I'm very fortunate to have a group of coaches who are loyal and that I can trust," he added. "That's something I feel strongly about."