The Super Bowl is over, but on the peninsula a new pigskin season is just getting started.
The Olympic Peninsula Eagles, a minor league team in the Western Washington Football Alliance, held their first practice of the 2011 season Saturday morning, Feb. 5. More than two dozen enthusiastic recruits were on hand, including a number with impressive football résumés.
That includes Luke Dixon, the former Forks Spartan. Dixon, an Army all-American in 2009, is now studying at Peninsula College and plans to enroll this fall at Washington State University.
Eagles coach Mike “Mac” McMahan says Dixon is hoping for a football scholarship to play with the Washington State Cougars. To improve his chances, and to stay in top condition, Dixon has joined the Eagles.
“With the team’s help, we’ll be able to send them game film and stats from a league that is a step up from college,” McMahan said.
McMahan noted having a spring season works well for players who hope to join the college ranks. “We will have small-college scouts at our games looking for young men to come play football and get an education,” he said.
McMahan said he’s seen “the league work. When I was coaching the Snohomish County Thunder we helped a young man get a full-ride scholarship to a small school in Kansas. Dreams do come true and this team’s goal is to keep them coming true for young men on the peninsula. Our main goal is to help young men achieve their goal of a college degree through sports.”
McMahan was quick to note that the players are unpaid, so they don’t lose any eligibility for any NCAA school.
McMahan admits most of the players aren’t likely to play college ball and most aren’t looking for the opportunity. “Our competition week in and week out are men who ... work for a living. Wives, kids, a boss that made them mad, so yes they have some pent-up frustrations that they take out on the field.”
After a promising 2010 season, the Eagles are setting their sights higher than ever.
Two new coaches have been added. Port Angeles High graduate (and former Portland State football player) Scott Lesure is taking over the offensive line coaching chores. Sequim’s John “Sarge” Allen is the new strength and conditioning coach.
“From what I’ve seen so far, we will be the most in-shape team in the league hands down,” McMahan said. “Last year the team tripled our wins from the previous year and gave the defending champs a run for their money in the playoffs. This year the Eagles have a good chance to be in the championship game.
McMahan said the team relies on the players and on fundraising events to support the eight-game season. He said the primary costs are $300 for field rental for games and $400 for referees per game. Each player pays $150 per season.
Like the players, the coaches are unpaid.
The season opens against the Cascade Xtreme at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 7, at Roosevelt Elementary in Port Angeles. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for seniors and students. Children 12 and under are free. Season tickets are available.
Those interested in a sponsorship or buying advertising space in game programs can contact McMahan at 360-670-5835.
Anyone interested in joining the Eagles as a player, coach, film person “or who just wants to help the team out,” can contact McMahan or visit the website at leaguelineup.com/opeagles.
No football experience is required to play. To qualify, players must be 18 or older by May 7, the date of the first game this season. The oldest player currently on the team is Dave Politte, 44. McMahan said the average age is 29.