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
DEFENSIVE BACKS (13)
&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
84 - *Dean Adams - Cornerback - Manson, Wash. (Manson HS) - 1964-65 - First team All-Evergreen Conference in 1964; Played alongside Dick Zornes.
12 - Ed Fisher - Cornerback - Spokane, Wash. (Shadle Park HS) - 1967-68-69-70 - All-Evergreen first team in `69 & '70; held EWU record with 219 punts.
25 - *Rob Friese - Cornerback/P. Ret. - Lebam, Wash. (Willapa Valley HS `81) - 1982-83-84-85 - 169 career tackles, 9 int., 16 pbu; 12.1 yds. per punt ret., 2 TD.
8 - *Jerry Kaiser - Cornerback - Seattle, Wash. (Chief Sealth HS '78) - 1982-83 - 100 tackles, 2 interceptions, 12 passes broken up in two seasons.
3 - *Jackie Kellogg - Cornerback - Tacoma, Wash. (Clover Park HS `89) - 1990-91-92-93 - 1st team All-BSC '91-`93; 222 tack., 17 int., 41 pbu; Played nine years in pros.
42 - *Greg Kramer - Strong Safety - Snohomish, Wash. (Snohomish HS '78 & CBC) - 1981-82 - School-record 9 interceptions with 46 tackles in 1982
24 - Jim Northcott - Cornerback - Spokane, Wash. (Gonzaga Prep HS) - 1966-67-68 - All-Evergreen first team in `67 & '68.
2 - Maurice Perigo - Free Safety - Oak Harbor, Wash. (Oak Harbor HS '94) - 1994-95-96-97 - FCS All-America in '96 & '97; 11 career interceptions.
15 - *Mark Puyear - Strong Safety - Granger, Wash. (Granger HS `80) - 1980-81-82-83 - Had 12 interceptions in his career with 142 return yards.
44 - Mike Richter - Safety - Newport, Wash. (Newport HS) - 1971-73-74-75 - First team NAIA A-A in `75; 18 int. (EWU record); All-EvCo in '73, '74 & '75.
25 - &*Kurt Schulz - Defensive Back - Yakima, Wash. (Eisenhower HS `87) - 1988-89-90-91 - FCS All-America in '89 & '91; 17 int., 224 tackles, 28 pbu; 10 years in NFL.
36 - Isaiah Trufant - Defensive Back - Tacoma, Wash. (Wilson HS '01) - 2002-03-04-05 - 11 interceptions and 24 pbu in career; Three years in AF1/AF2.
25 - &Dick Zornes - Safety - Vancouver, Wash. (Hudson's Bay HS '62) - 1963-64-65-66 - A true legend, with 26 years as an Eastern player, coach and administrator.
For Rob Friese, home has, and always will be, the tiny town of Lebam, Wash., in the beautiful Willapa Valley in Southwestern Washington State.
But the reminder of his home-away-from-home is the exit sign off Interstate 90 that directs travelers to Cheney, Wash.
First as a student, then as a coach and now as a parent, those miles have added up as Friese and his family have covered thousands of miles in the last 25 years driving to "the other side of the world" at Eastern Washington University.
"I see that exit to Cheney after that 6 1/2-hour drive and I know I'm almost home,"
he said of his frequent trips to Cheney for either track and field meets or to visit his children who now attend EWU.
"It's great living back in my hometown, but I'm always
excited to go back to my college home in Cheney. At times it does
feel like I'm going home when I'm headed that way."
Friese is one of 13 defensive 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 list of defensive backs includes three players -- Jackie Kellogg, Kurt Schulz and Isaiah Trufant -- who have gone on to successful professional careers, with Schulz, Maurice Perigo and Mike Richter earning All-America honors. But the ticket for the diminutive Friese came in the form of the great respect he received by being named to the All-Time team selected by Dick Zornes, who had 26 years of involvement with the Eastern Football program (1963-67, 1971, 1979-98).
Zornes, a defensive back himself for the Eagles in the early 1960s, was selected to the "100 for 100" team via vote by the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame selection committee. Friese played as a cornerback and punt returner for Zornes 20 years later. As seniors, both were 5-foot-10 with Zornes weighing in at 195 pounds and Friese 17 pounds lighter at 178.
"It was probably because he saw the similarities in me of when he played at Eastern," said Friese of the respect he garnered from Zornes.
"I'm not sure if it was the orneriness he saw in me, but
I think he played the same way with a lot of intensity and
toughness. We both relished being the underdog -- we didn't have a
lot of size but we were scrappy. And it sounded like we both liked
to have fun and enjoy ourselves away from football. Because of all
those similarities, we always got along pretty well.
The path Friese took to Eastern came as a result of a trip he and his Willapa Valley High School classmates Matt and Mark Bannish took when they were seniors and visited various colleges in Washington. Together, they helped WVHS win three state titles during their time there.
"I knew I wanted to go to an in-state school and get away," Friese explained.
"We even missed our senior trip so we could look at
Friese fell in love instantly with Cheney and Eastern. Despite the 6 1/2 hour drive, he knew he wanted to be a student there and football wasn't even in the equation, especially since he was only about 145 pounds and came from such a small school.
"For a guy from Lebam, Cheney was the other side of the world," he said.
"But I wanted to expand my horizons and see what was out
His buddies, although they were brothers, ended up at different schools and played different sports. Matt Bannish went to Skagit Valley Community College and played basketball at Seattle Pacific University. Mark Bannish was a standout football player at Central. All three would later return to Willapa Valley where they still reside. Friese is principal and football coach at his high school alma mater, Matt is a teacher there and Mark owns a painting business.
At the time, Friese didn't expect to be a collegiate athlete. But thanks to persistence and an Eastern shot putter from nearby Naselle -- 1983 NCAA Division II champion Bruce Anderson -- he did.
"I kept bugging them, but Zornes told me that I might want to pass puberty first," laughed Friese.
"Bruce kept telling them to take a look at me. Eventually some other players just happened to drop off the roster and they told me to come over. The rest was kind of history."
"It was tough my first year trying to prove myself," added Friese, whose position coach was eventual Portland State and Boise State head coach Pokey Allen, who later tragically died of cancer.
"But Pokey loved me -- he liked a scrapper."
Friese lettered at Eastern from 1982-85, helping Eastern to a 9-3 record as a senior and the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Championship Subdivision Playoffs. During a tumultuous time when Eastern was justifying its existence at the NCAA Division I level and seeking admission into the Big Sky Conference, he finished his career with 169 tackles, nine interceptions, 16 passes broken up and a 12.1 average per punt return in his career.
His 84-yard punt return for a touchdown in the FCS playoffs in 1985 versus Northern Iowa still stands as the longest in school history, and he had a 72-yarder for a TD earlier that season versus Idaho.
Friese chooses education at Eastern before embarking upon teaching, coaching and administrative career . . .
Honors were non-existent in those years for Eastern as the school played as an independent. His honors would come later in education, a field he didn't exactly expect to pursue when while he was in college. "I wanted to go into sports medicine, but because of football I couldn't get enough time in the training room as a student assistant," he said.
Instead, he chose education, and became an English major with a physical education minor. Friese received his degree in 1986, then began a career in teaching, coaching and administration that has been even more prosperous than his playing career.
His first teaching and coaching position came at Ocosta High School, then, in the 1990-91 school year, he returned to Willapa Valley and the family ranch in Lebam. Friese's parents Skip and Evelyn raise cattle on the ranch, and all four of their sons live nearby. Since the population of Lebam is less than 200, the Friese family is its patriarch family.
"Everybody still lives on the ranch -- we kind of have our own little Ponderosa," said Friese, who spent much of his childhood and summer breaks as a ranch hand feeding the cattle, bucking hay and other farm chores.
"Dad lives in the center and the brothers live around
him. We each have our families there so it's kind of a neat
His brothers Ron and Skip Jr. are now foremen at the nearby Weyerhaeuser plant, and his other brother, Jamey, helps clear roads for logging trucks.
In 1993, Friese became head football coach at Willapa Valley and helped the Vikings win WIAA State B titles in 1996 and 2001. His teams have won seven league titles and he has a 115-41 record with 12 playoff appearance in his 15 seasons at the helm. Last season, Willapa Valley was 8-3 and lost in the first round of the playoffs.
He has been honored as Washington State Coaches Association District IV Football Coach of the Year and has earned league coach of the year honors multiple times. For several years he served as the WSCA west-side coordinator for the East-West All-State football game, and once he was the winning head coach in the B/A/AA game.
He has been honored as the Seattle Seahawks Coach of the Week and has served on that NFL team's High School Coaches Council. He has also served on the WIAA B Football Study Committee.
As head coach of the girls track team, his squads won 12 league titles. Three times his teams placed third in the state, and once they finished fourth. He also served as an assistant for the boys, which won the 2002 State B title and was the runner-up the following season.
His honors didn't stop with athletics as he has been principal at Willapa Valley since 1997. He won the Robert J. Handy Administrator of the Year award in 2005 and has served as the Washington Association of Secondary School Principals Small School Representative. He has also served on the AWSP Certificate of Academic Achievement Committee.
Since 1996, he has coached in or been a spectator at the WIAA State Track and Field Championships that EWU has hosted for the smaller schools in Washington. He knows first-hand the impact that experience has had on the college decisions those high school students make. About 1,000 athletes and about 1,000 coaches and administrators attend the meet each year.
"When I was going to high school, I didn't know anything about Eastern," he said.
"I hope the university understands how important that meet is to these small-school kids. They get to experience campus life at the State Track meet. They come back really impressed and it gives them an idea of what the Eastern campus and community is like.
"Once you become an administrator in a small school you do so much counseling too," added Friese, who also works at WVHS with his college buddy John Peterson.
"We like to think we've created a pipeline to Eastern."
Interestingly, Friese's son Shawn and Peterson's son Josh were born on the same day -- March 6, 1986. John Peterson eventually would coach both boys in basketball at Willapa Valley, and Josh is joining Shawn as EWU students this fall.
All three children, including Eastern pole vaulter Chelsi Friese, are all expected to be at Eastern this fall . . .
Rob and his wife Lisa, who was a cheerleader at Eastern and award-winning student in the physical education department, have done their best to steer their children -- Shawn, Laura and Chelsi -- to Cheney. All three experienced the State Track meet at Eastern, and came away with such a positive experience that Shawn and Chelsi attended EWU out of high school. Chelsi spent the 2007-08 school year competing in the pole vault for the Eagles, and finished 11th indoors and fifth outdoors at the Big Sky Conference Championships.
Laura started her education at Washington State University, but is planning to transfer to Eastern this fall. "My own kids have been there so many times because of State Track, I just think they enjoy it."
Returning home to Lebam from college is a family reunion for the Friese kids. Coupled with the children of his two sisters, Rob's kids are a part of a group of 19 cousins, including 14 who live on the ranch. "We can almost have a full football game with two 11-person teams," laughed Rob of his large family.
Heck, Rob's WVHS football team is a family reunion -- three of his nephews will be on his team this fall. Add a few great grandchildren of Skip and Evelyn, and there are plenty more potential Eastern students to recruit to Cheney.
"I think they realize there is not a lot here for them once your friends are gone and you're out of the high school scene," he said of the lure of going away to college. "If you re a kid looking for excitement, and if you aren't working here or hunting and fishing, going to college is a great option."
Friese returned home as much as possible, but football at Eastern was a year-around commitment. But one spring break, he remembers that he didn't make Evelyn very happy.
"One spring break my mom wasn't real impressed," he recalled. "I was headed home for spring break and never came home when I said I would. I made it as far as Federal Way. I think I did make it home eventually, but I kept calling and said I was going to take one more day."
He recalls his relationship with Zornes very fondly and even has picked up some coaching tips from the Eastern legend.
"He told you what he thought, but I didn't climb into a shell," he said. "That was the way I was raised, so I knew I just had to play harder. I took a lot of abuse, but you don't quit just because of yelling.
"I even kept some of his cliches, the clean ones at least," he said.
"I remember one time I came off the field he told me, `You got beat like a drum.' When I came from Willapa Valley he told me I knew less about football than anybody he knows.
"I would like to think I'm half as intelligent as he is," he added.
"I did pick up a lot of things from my experience at Eastern
that I use now. It wasn't always offense and defense -- I knew at
Ocosta we couldn't run the `I' formation like we did at Eastern.
But I learned a lot about the other aspects of coaching and how to
deal with kids and motivate them. The things I learned were very
Now, as he gets older, he understands the importance of remembering the past and cherishing the memories. Two years ago, the 1985 Eagle team he played on was inducted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame and he made the long drive from Lebam to celebrate with his former teammates.
"When you are there playing you don't realize a lot of things until later," he explained, bringing up a recent reunion with former EWU teammate Frank Staudenraus. "Frank graduated from high school just down the road from me. When I was planning to go to Sacramento for the Big Sky Championships, somebody told me he was living nearby in Folsom, Calif. Until I saw him, I never realized he had 30 sacks and was our all-time sacks leader.
"It just shows what a small world it really is," he added.
"It's neat to have my kids there and still keep in touch
with the Eastern family."
Even if Cheney does seem like the other side of the world.