December 8, 2009
By Bob Taylor
When Western Washington University terminated its football program last year, it meant many players had to seek other colleges to continue their careers. Among those players finding new homes were Skyline High School graduates Zach Schrader, Nick Rocco and Nick Cragin.All three received special honors this fall.
Schrader, a junior safety for Sacramento State, was selected as the Big Sky Conference Newcomer of the Year and received second-team honors. He started all 11 games for Sacramento State, and led the team with 103 tackles.
Schrader also topped the team with four interceptions and four forced fumbles. He was the only player in the Big Sky to rank among the five in each of those categories.
Rocco, a defensive lineman, and Cragin, a linebacker, started for Dixie State College in Utah. Rocco was named to the Great Northwest Athletic Conference first team and Cragin was named to the second team. Cragin topped Dixie State with 107 tackles.
Linebacker Devon Jonsson, another Skyline graduate, played for Menlo College in California and was named to the Northwest Conference second team.
Playing in postseason
Some former Skyline football players, just like when they were in high school, are enjoying postseason experiences.
Linebackers Jason Harris and Tyler Washburn were members of the Eastern Washington University team that played in the NCAA Championship Sub Division playoffs. The Eagles lost to Stephen F. Austin 44-33 in the first round.
Washburn, a freshman, started four games for Eastern this season. Harris was the starting quarterback on Skyline’s 2005 state title team.
Offensive tackle Tom Swanson, an all-state selection on the 2007 Skyline state championship team, is on the unbeaten Boise State University team that won the Western Athletic Conference title recently and is headed for the Fiesta Bowl.
The Broncos will play undefeated Texas Christian University in the Fiesta Bowl.
Back on the sidelines
Former Liberty High School star Mkristo Bruce and former Patriots head coach Tom Ingles were invited to be on the sidelines for Liberty in the Dec. 4 3A state championship game.
Bruce was an all-KingCo Conference selection for the Patriots in his high school playing days. He was a starting quarterback and defensive lineman for the Patriots. Bruce later became a starter at Washington State University, and played for some National Football League teams.
“Our guys just love him. It’s been great having him around this season,” Liberty coach Steve Valach said of Bruce.
Ingles led the Patriots to the 3A state championship game in 1980 and 1988. The 1980 team lost to Centralia, but the 1988 team defeated Cheney 31-0 to cap an unbeaten season.
“Tom is a great guy,” Valach said. “We were honored to have him on the sidelines.”
Ingles later left Liberty to become coach at Kentwood. He directed Kentwood to the 4A state titles in 2001 and 2002. Ingles is currently coaching at Puyallup.
Last week, Valach received phone calls and letters from former Liberty players and parents who wished the Patriots well for the state title game.
“It really became a community builder,” he said. “It really seemed like a family atmosphere.”
In fact, it really was a family atmosphere for Valach as a brother who resides in Texas and two sisters, who live in Oregon, came to the championship game.
Former Patriots honored, too
Washington State University offensive lineman Chris Prummer, a former standout for Liberty High School, was named to the Pacific 10 Conference All-Academic first team. Prummer has a 3.88 grade point average and is majoring in zoology.
Deon Horne, another former Patriot, recently completed a stellar career for Willamette University.
Horne, a running back, received Northwest Conference honorable mention. He started the first seven games for the Bearcats before suffering a season-ending injury.
Another honor for Heaps
Skyline High School quarterback Jake Heaps picked up another award last week, when he was selected as the 2009-10 Gatorade Washington Player of the Year.
The senior is now a finalist for the Gatorade National Football Player of the Year. The winner will be announced later this month.
Coach joins good company
Skyline High coach Mat Taylor joined some special company after directing the Spartans to back-to-back 4A state titles.
Taylor is just the second KingCo Conference coach to win back-to-back 4A state titles. Juanita, under Chuck Tarbox, won titles in 1984 and 1985.
Big season for former Eagle
Wide receiver Ross Zuhl, an Issaquah High School graduate, had a big freshman football season for the University of Puget Sound.
Zuhl led the Loggers in receiving with 54 catches for 640 yards. He caught seven touchdown passes.
Zuhl received Northwest Conference honorable mention.
Former Eagle caps career
Matt Glenn, another former Issaquah player, ended his collegiate football career in style.
Glenn, a running back for Washington University in St. Louis, rushed for 79 yards and scored a touchdown on senior night to help his team defeat Chicago University 44-37.