Celebrating 100 of the top players in Eastern Football History as the school embarks upon its 100th season of football in the 2008 season. For more information, go to: http://goeags.prestosports.com/hallfame/ewas-100for100.html
RUNNING BACKS (12)
&Indicates current member of Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame. *Member of the Dick Zornes All-Time Team (players from the years 1963-67, 1971, 1979-98).
No. - Name - Position - Hometown (Previous Schools) - Years Lettered - Honors/Notes/Stats
72 - Jack Barnes - Halfback - Spokane, Wash. - 1933-34-35-36 - Selected to the Red Reese All-Time Team that was published in 1947.
8 - Jesse Chatman - Running Back - Seattle, Wash. (Franklin HS '98) - 1999-00-01 - FCS Off. Back of the Year & A-A in `01 with 2,096, 19 TD; Five years in NFL.
24 - Mel Collins - Running Back - Chowchilla, Calif. (Walla Walla CC) - 1969-70-71 - 2,000 career rushing yards, 4,102 all-purpose yards.
45 - *Joe Kniffen - Fullback - Sumner, Wash. (Sumner HS `82) - 1982-83-84-85 - Had 1,172 rushing yards and 34 catches in his career
11 - Dick Maurstad - Halfback - Arlington, Wash. (Arlington HS) - 1936-37-38-39 - Selected to the Red Reese All-Time Team; Now 90 and living in Clarkston, Wash.
65 - &Meriel Michelson - Fullback - Pasco, Wash. (Pasco HS) - 1947-48-49-50 - Little All-West Coast in `50; 2,517 rushing yards (school record for 38 years).
77 - Ralph Peterson - Fullback - Cashmere, Wash. (Cashmere HS) - 1931-32-33-34 - Selected to the Red Reese All-Time Team that was published in 1947.
33 - Rex Prescott - Running Back - Seattle, Wash. (Kennedy HS '93) - 1994-95-96-97 - First team FCS All-America in 1997; 3,228 career rushing yards, 28 TD.
46 - &*Mel Stanton - Halfback - Spokane, Wash. (Lewis & Clark HS) - 1963-64-65 - First team NAIA All-America in '65 with 1,238 yards, 21 TD; 2,318 in career
35 - *Don Strate - Fullback - Davenport, Wash. (Davenport HS `63) - 1964-65-66 - Rushed for 1,972 career yards; All-Evergreen Conference in 1964
44 - *Jamie Townsend - Running Back - Pasco, Wash. (Pasco HS `84) - 1984-85-86-88 - Hon. Mention A-A in 1985; 2,970 career yards, 27 TD; Signed CFL contract.
5 - Darius Washington - Running Back - Mukilteo, Wash. (Mariner HS '99) - 2001-02-04 - Third team FCS All-America in 2004 with 1,127 rushing yards, 16 TD.
My, how times have changed. And now at 90 years of age, Dick Maurstad remembers fondly his four years of playing football in Cheney, Wash.
Maurstad is one of 12 running backs on Eastern Washington University's "100 for 100" All-Time Football Team. The squad consists of 100 of the top players in school history to help commemorate the upcoming 100th year of football at Eastern. The "100 for 100" squad will be honored on Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame Day on Sept. 27, 2008, in conjunction with EWU's Big Sky Conference football game with Idaho State. Starting June 18, the public is invited to vote on the top player at each position, with results announced on Sept. 27.
The running backs on the squad include the likes of All-Americans Jesse Chatman, Rex Prescott, Darius Washington, Jamie Townsend and Mel Stanton. Eastern's tradition at running back is highlighted by the fact the Eagles had a 1,000-yard rusher for eight-straight seasons from 1995-2002. Chatman, now with the New York Jets in the NFL, had a remarkable 2,096 in the 2001 season and Prescott had 1,793 in 1997.
But football was much, much different some 60 years earlier when Maurstad lettered at Eastern from 1936-39. He earned his spot on the "100 for 100" team by being a member of the all-star team hand-picked by legendary Hall of Fame coach William "Red" Reese in 1947.
Maurstad was a halfback on both offense and defense in the days when players were always two-way performers, and also punted and returned punts. He came to Eastern from Arlington, Wash., and the retired school administrator now resides in Clarkston, Wash., with his 90-year-old wife Martha.
Just before Maurstad came to Cheney, the school was a two-year institution and was known as Cheney Normal. It became Eastern Washington College of Education in March 1937, and his 1940 class was one of the first to graduate with four years of college education. In those days, tuition fees were raised to $7 per quarter, plus $2 for health services and access to the library.
As a rare, four-year letter winner in those days, he received a "W Club" blanket and a lifetime pass to all Eastern sporting events at home. It's a pass that is still recognized today at Eastern athletic events.
Maurstad's athletic prowess is still evident today. On April 27, 2008, he won his division at the 2008 Banana Belt Senior Tournament at the Clarkston Country Club. One of his friends and playing partners is Pat Whitehill, a former Eastern student-athlete in the 1940's and 50's who was admitted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001. Whitehill and his wife Altamae get together for monthly games of bridge with the Maurstads.
In an interview conducted by Whitehill, Maurstad explained that in the 1930s Eastern used a single wing offense which shifted either right or left. The halfback in those days was sometimes the lead blocker, much like a fullback is today. On defense, the halfback was responsible for stopping any opponent receiver in his area.
Maurstad, when asked which he liked best -- offense or defense -- he replied, "When the offense was going well, offense. When defense was going well, defense."
Among the other observations Maurstad made to Whitehill were the following:
-- Helmets were made of leather and had little shock absorbency.
-- Hip pads provided little protection and players often had hip pointers.
-- Most players did not use teeth protectors.
-- Players were expected to play the entire game. If a substitute was needed, the substitute played the rest of that period before the original player could return to the field.
-- Red Reese was the only coach on the field that was paid until Hal Jones was hired to help him.
Maurstad played on Eastern teams that were a collective 24-7-1. In 1936, Eastern finished 7-1 and won the Tri-Normal School Association with victories over Central Washington (12-6) and Western Washington (6-0). They repeated that title by finishing 6-1 in 1937 and again registering victories over Central (18-0) and Western (13-6).
Eastern joined the Washington Intercollegiate Conference the following season and finished 2-1 in the league and 6-2-1 overall. As a senior in 1939, Eastern won the title with a 2-1 record and 5-3 mark overall.
Maurstad, who received his bachelor's degree from Eastern in 1940, went on to serve his country in World War II as a bombardier. He had 30 missions in England before being sent home. He eventually received his master's degree from Eastern in 1953.