Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

Eastern restocks its football shelves


Despite losing their head coach, and a handful of assistants, during one of the most crucial times in the offseason, Eastern Washington’s national powerhouse football team appears to have not missed a beat in announcing its 2017 recruiting class, Feb. 1.

New Eastern head football coach Aaron Best addressed a room full of Eagle boosters at the yearly National Letter of Intent breakfast at Northern Quest Resort and Casino, officially unveiling his acronym for recruits.

The EKG’s — Best’s term for ‘Eastern Kind of Guys’ — numbered 19. The group includes 15 from the state of Washington as the Eagles reload for another season that begins Sept. 2 at Texas Tech in Lubbock.

“Eastern kind of guys are good people, good students and good players,” Best explained. “When you mix those things together we’ve coined the phrase EKG. Every one of them fits that mold based on what we’ve seen thus far.”

It’s an impressive list of honor-grabbing prospects that hope to play on the red turf at Roos Field in the future. Eastern finished 12-2 in 2016, losing in the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals.

All-State selections included defensive back Anfernee Gurley from Everett, Wash., and Archbishop Murphy High School, along with cornerback Darreon Moore from Pasco, Wash., and Kamiakin High School. Both led their teams to state championships. Moore earned All-State honors from both the Seattle Times and the Tacoma News Tribune. Gurley was picked by The Times’ as one of the top prospects in the state.

Eastern also signed Gonzaga Prep defensive end Matthew Simpson, the co-Defensive MVP of the 4A Greater Spokane League, the lone local selection.

Also notable out of the homegrown Washington talent that Eastern loves to mine is linebacker Cale Lindsay from Lakes High School in Tacoma. He was in the running for the state’s 3A Player of the Year as chosen by the Associated Press.

Another favorite hunting ground for EWU in the past has been Oregon. This year that effort lured just one recruit in All-State linebacker Mitchell Johnson from West Linn High School near Portland.

The Eagles also signed a quarterback with NFL lineage, Nick Moore, from Hart High School in California. Moore, whose older brother, Matt, is a former Oregon State quarterback and a 10-year NFL veteran, threw for 36 touchdowns with 2,815 yards of total offense as a senior.

Darreon Moore’s teammate, offensive lineman Wyatt Musser, also signed, as EWU has four sets of teammates.

Wide receiver Marques Hampton and safety A. Pasesa Leiato were teammates at Steilacoom High School near Tacoma. Lindsay and linebacker Xavier Banner played together at Lakes. The other set are wide receiver Johnny Edwards IV and linebacker Chris Ojoh, both of whom will graduate from California’s Bishop Alemany High School in Pasadena, alma mater of former Eastern quarterback, Vernon Adams Jr.

“They have infectious personalities,” Best said. “They have the big smiles when you see them — they are just pleasant individuals and have been raised in a great structure. I’m excited to see them incorporated into our locker room.”

Another important element, “They are good football players as well,” Best added.

Paul Delaney can be reached at

WR 5-11 175 Pasadena, Calif. (Bishop Alemany HS ‘17)

Anfernee Gurley DB 5-10 180 Everett, Wash. (Archbishop Murphy HS ‘17)

Marques Hampton Jr. WR 6-1 180 DuPont, Wash. (Steilacoom HS ‘17)

Dylan Ingram TE 6-5 235 Camas, Wash. (Camas HS ‘17)

Mitchell Johnson DE 6-3 225 West Linn, Ore. (West Linn HS ‘17)

A. Pasesa Leiato S 6-0 180 Steilacoom, Wash. (Steilacoom HS ‘17)

Cale Lindsay LB 6-1 220 Tacoma, Wash. (Lakes HS ‘17)

Amir Matheney DT 6-2 300 Olympia, Wash. (Olympia HS ‘17)

Debore’ae McClain DE 6-3 210 Bremerton, Wash. (Peninsula HS ‘17)

Darreon Moore CB 5-11 165 Pasco, Wash. (Kamiakin HS ‘17)

Nick Moore QB 6-0 180 Newhall, Calif. (Hart HS ‘17)

Wyatt Musser OL 6-5 275 Kennewick, Wash. (Kamiakin HS ‘17)

Chris Ojoh LB 6-1 215 Sunland, Calif. (Bishop Alemany HS ‘17)

Matt Shook OL 6-4 270 Graham, Wash. (Graham-Kapowsin HS ‘17)

Matthew Simpson DE 6-3 235 Spokane, Wash. (Gonzaga Prep HS ‘17)

Gunner Talkington QB 5-10 180 Battle Ground, Wash. (Battle Ground HS ‘17)

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