Despite no postseason, Eastern football still finds accomplishments


Last updated 11/30/2017 at 10:44am

First-year Eastern head football coach Aaron Best had plenty to be happy about in a season where his Eagles were skipped over for a playoff berth.

The season ended abruptly, but the accomplishments were aplenty.

The Eastern Washington University football team secured a school-record 11th-straight winning season and had yet another outstanding Big Sky Conference campaign in 2017, but the Eagles had their season come to a surprising end when they were denied a berth in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

Eastern closed the season 7-4 overall and in a tie for third in the Big Sky Conference with a 6-2 record. It's the 11th-straight season the Eagles have finished 5-3 or better in the Big Sky. The Eagles had already secured its record 11th-straight winning season and 20th in the last 22 years.

"We were 7-4, but the standard around here is better than 7-4," for first-year head coach Aaron Best said. "We're used to championships and hardware – at different times in Eastern's history that may be a Super Bowl season, but now it's sub-par. I like that about our mentality and we'll attack our off-season based on that. We will have a chip on both shoulders."

The Eagles overcame a rash of injuries to win seven games, and, in some ways, that made the year extremely special for Best. His debut season was even better than those of previous Eagle head coaches Beau Baldwin (6-5), Paul Wulff (6-5) and Mike Kramer (4-7).

"That's what good teams do," he said of his team that had only five players start every game at the same position in 2017. "I would argue that we were a great team. We started playing our best football late and won seven of our last nine."

"I'm so proud of this darn team," he added. "Of the four losses we had, three of them were to conference champions and the other is from Lubbock. We won the games we were supposed to win, and played lights out in a lot of our games. Our team should not hang their heads – they battled through 11 games and we ended up on the right side of things in seven of them."

With poll voters understanding EWU's strength of schedule, Eastern finished the regular season ranked 17th in the STATS FCS Top 25 polls.


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