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Lakewood WA – The 8th annual Cougars Championship Passing Tournament showcased some of the Northwest's best teams, coaching and talent Saturday. This 7 on 7 tournament plus lineman challenge was the largest yet and the largest event of its kind on the west coast according to Lakewood head coach and tournament coordinator Dan Teeter.
26 teams were on the board to test their passing and lineman skills including the 5 teams from the inaugural first year event; Lakewood, Bothell, Issaquah, Kings & Kamiak.
For the second straight year, Bothell walked away with the coveted first place championship trophy beating out Nooksack in the final contest. Bothell Senior QB Ross Bowers was the Offensive MVP and Lakewood Safety Paulmer Gregory was the Defensive MVP.
During Saturday's event we were able to speak to several of the Northwest's top coaches and future D1 prospects, plus take hundreds of images and hours of video to share the experience.
Jacob Eason, QB for Lake Stevens is one of those highly touted D1 prospects that took a minute to answer a few questions for us. We asked what he thought his team's prospects were for this year and how he felt about last season's performance. "Dropping the first game to Glacier Peak was mostly due to nerves, but we were able to put that behind us and I am happy with how we came together to play the rest of our season" Eason said. "I believe we will build on what we started last year and push further into the playoffs. I could see us going all the way" he said.
Eason is a very personable kid with a strong stature and a firm handshake. He is in command of his offense and shows great leadership. The players around him also share his winning attitude by making that extra effort to reach a little further or get one extra step to catch his passes. Eason has also benefitted from the experience that Lake Stevens longtime head coach Tom Tri gives his players by allowing each player to grow at their own rate. Eason has excelled in the Viking program and plans to be a Georgia Bulldog when he graduates.
One surprise in talent at the event was the young gunslinger trotted out by Glacier Peak's head coach Rory Rosenbach. Having his stallion Brady Southard off attending a different event, Rosenbach handed the duties to incoming Junior QB Devyn Rainbow, who performed very well. The Grizzlies were able to make it into Saturday's quarterfinals behind Rainbows arm.
Glacier Peak head football coach Rory Rosenbach said they had 113 kids attend football camp in Eastern Washington this year and expects about 160 or more to turnout for fall ball. With those types of numbers GP's prospects continue to look bright not to mention their solid coaching staff of six years including Offensive Coordinator Nick Bender and famed Defensive Coordinator Steve Hannan. Two unanswered questions that plague Glacier Peak…How to get past Bellevue? And when will they get their own home stadium?
Another great conversation was with the events MVP, Bothell's QB Ross Bowers. "I see our biggest games to be Eastlake and Mount Si this season" Bowers said. And when asked about his team, "We got almost everyone back from last year so there shouldn't be any big adjustments" he said.
The Bothell Cougars were a machine; they played with precision and were the only team in our view that showed a true ‘two platoon' mentality. With Bowers running the offense, they will be in the hunt from game one forward.
Next we talked with Meadowdale Mavericks head coach Mike Don. "This event was a good experience for his players, but don't look to the win/loss column when evaluating his club" Mike Don said. "We are a run first team and many of our schemes depend on it to open up good looks down field" he said. Don had the misfortune to get some tough draws early in the competition but felt they held their ground fairly well. This is coach Don's second year with the Mavs coming over from the Lynnwood Royals.
Finally we ended the day talking with Lakewood head coach and event coordinator Dan Teeter. He was a wealth of information and insight to the Lakewood mentality. Starting with the team t-shirts that said "WE, ME, ALL IN" you get the idea right from the start. Don was proud of the event and his team. "We have the best 4 year win/loss record in Snohomish County" Don said. "And we have a good track record of sending athletes to play in college" he said as we walked into the locker room to view their wall of fame. The large section of wall he showed us was full of past players that advanced to post high school play. Don was quick to remind us that they are only a 2A school and it takes a lot of hard work to compete with huge juggernauts like Bothell. That's exactly what transpired in the end when Lakewood played Bothell in the semi-final round. They lost the game but not their spirit being one of the final four out of 26.
The 26 teams or 25 teams after the Prosser head coach removed his team from the contest, battled all day for a chance at the prize. In the end Bothell trumped Nooksack adding another trophy to their case.
Prosser left the event halfway through their second game against Sehome.
According to information we gathered from spectators and event officials, a controversy erupted after an altercation between a Prosser player and a Sehome player during the game. Officials say a couple swings were exchanged and the two players involved were ejected for the remainder of that game. Officials also say that the Prosser head coach was not satisfied with the ruling and adamantly disagreed with the decision, so much so that he put his team on the bus for home.
This surprised many coaches and fans alike because of the festive atmosphere surrounding the spirit of competition and professional conduct of all the teams in attendance. One unnamed source said "It seems to me that this would've been a great teaching moment. If this had happened on a Friday night you certainly wouldn't be taking your team home before the end of the game."
Yes, the competition was fierce, but at the same time athletes from different teams would cheer each other on forgetting their colors if only for a moment.
Saturdays passing competition included; Arlington, Bellevue Christian, Bothell, Cascade, Glacier Peak, Highline, Issaquah, Juanita, Kamiak, King's, Lake Stevens, Lake Washington, Lakewood, Lakewood JV, Liberty, Meadowdale, Monroe, Mount Vernon, Nooksack, Port Angeles, Prosser, Sehome, Sequim, Squalcum and Tulalip.
Final eight teams included; Arlington, Bothell, Glacier Peak, Issaquah, Lake Stevens, Lakewood, Monroe and Nooksack.
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