Oct. 4, 2006
Story and Photo by Brandon Hansen
Trial by fire has been the theme for the Eagles this year with a freshman quarterback and a plethora of young faces stepping up in key roles against a schedule that has already featured two NCAA Division I-A squads. And if there's anyone that knows what it's like to be thrown into the thick of college football, it's senior linebacker David Eneberg.
In 2004, Eneberg got his first start against Sacramento State at inside linebacker when his friend Doug Vincent went down with a foot injury.
"I was nervous, I was confident and I was excited," said Eneberg, who is from Mukilteo, Wash., and is a 2002 graduate of Kamiak High School where he had 334 tackles in his high school career.
Eneberg would start for EWU the rest of the season, and came up big in Eastern's overtime match-up against Montana State in Bozeman, Mont. He knocked down a fourth-down pass to seal the 51-44 victory for the Eagles and earn them a berth in the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs.
Eneberg said that it was one of his favorite memories as an Eagle.
And he didn't have to wait long to experience another great moment at EWU, as the Eagles would pull off a historical upset of the No. 1 ranked and top-seeded Southern Illinois Salukis to advance to the second round of the playoffs.
"That was awesome," said Eneberg. "No one gave us a chance except for us."
In 2004, he amassed 57 tackles and three sacks. He would then improve on that total with 60 tackles in 2005, and earned All-Big Sky honorable mention honors despite a late season ankle injury. Currently, he leads the Eagles and ranks 10th in the Big Sky Conference with 37 tackles (7.4 per game).
As the defensive captain for the Eagles this year, Eneberg has taken on more of a leadership role on and off the field.
"I'm kind of more vocal," said Eneberg. "But I've been in this place before (he was a team captain in high school)."
Eneberg even helped organize a closed-door team meeting after the Eagles started 0-3, and the difference was felt immediately with a victory over Montana State the following week. He said that a large part of the improved performance by the Eagles was that the coaching staff changed practice routines so that the starting offense would play the starting defense instead of the scout team. That meant that by the time Saturday rolled around, EWU players were ready for full-contact and full-speed.
After the 19-10 victory over the Bobcats, Eneberg was selected as the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week after he racked up 13 tackles.
As the "Sam" linebacker, Eneberg is essentially the quarterback of the defense, calling out down and distance, possible plays being run by the opposition and any key substitutions by the other team. So he has quite a mouthful at the line of scrimmage.
"They wait to see what you're running and then they're making checks," said Eneberg, who said that this kind of adlibbing wasn't an occurrence in high school. "We didn't have to call out the offense, that was difficult to learn."
This sort of responsibility means that he's spending a lot of time watching videotape of the opposition.
"You try to understand their different tendencies," said Eneberg. "Like if a lineman lines up differently on a run play or pass play."
Then of course there's the practices, which for a linebacker, is always war.
"The tough part is doing the individual drills," said Eneberg. "I've heard from other players who have switched to the linebacker position say that it's one of the tougher positions to play."
But it all pays off in the end when the crowd starts to roar, and then the big hits start to come.
"It's always worth it when game time rolls around," said Eneberg.