Why aren't Simone, other Cougs in star game?

THE STATE OF Washington's annual East-West high school all-star football game next month will have a decidedly different look this year. Only two future Cougs and one future Husky will be playing. The lack of crimson representation – despite a recruiting class loaded with the state's top talent – begs the question: How come?

The answer is straight forward.

Five incoming new Cougs who normally would have suited up for the annual game are enrolling at WSU for the four-week summer session that begins the same day that East-West practices commence.

As a result, Travis Long, Gino Simone, Nolan Washington, Andre Barrington and Casey Locker will be hitting the books rather than the field.

All five were picked to play in the all-star game featuring just-graduated seniors, says East-West director Jerry Parish.

But with WSU's accelerated bridge program, they had to choose between the game or the jump-start on college.

Because of the compressed nature of summer school, missing a week of classes to participate in the game would mean punting a full 25 percent of the session.

Two new Cougs, however, will indeed knock heads in the game, which is set for 1 p.m. on June 27 in Everett. Spokane products Chris Mastin of Lewis & Clark and Elliot Bosch of Ferris will play for the East.

Mastin, a defensive end who projects as a linebacker at WSU, was the co-defensive player of the year in the Greater Spokane League last season along with Long. He was an all-classifications All-State pick by the Seattle Times.

Bosch, a two-way tackle who could develop into a tight end or defensive end at WSU, turned down scholarship offers from Montana, EWU and others – as well as overtures from much of the Ivy League – to become an invited walk on at WSU. Bosch's coach at Ferris, Jim Sharkey, will be one of the assistants for the East squad.

Also playing in the game will be Paul Ena of Inglemoor High in Kenmore. He's the son of Tali Ena, the standout WSU running back of the late 70s. Paul, a linebacker, will play his college ball at EWU.

Standout Bellevue safety Jamal Atofau, who also is headed to WSU this fall, didn't apply for a slot on the East-West roster, Parrish said..

The Huskies' limited presence at the all-star game is understandable because they had only three in-staters in their most recent recruiting class. Their lone player in the game will be Andru Pulu of Federal Way.

THE STATES OF WASHINGTON and Oregon are two of the few that hold their high school all-star games in the summer rather than in the weeks following the regular football season. That's unfortunate for two reasons: 1) Players aren't in game shape after seven months away from the field and only a week to practice; and 2) More and more players are choosing to get a head start on college by enrolling in the summer.

The game shape issue (i.e. threat of injury) would seem a compelling reason to move the game to December or January. Two current Cougars – second-year freshman tight end Andrei Lintz of Bellingham and third-year sophomore Kevin Freitag of Burien – had their rookie seasons at WSU ruined by injuries sustained in practices for the East-West game.

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