September 9, 2008 · Updated 2:34 PM
Pirate team includes roster of football vets Eastly said the game made him feel optimistic about the coming season. He compared this year’s team to last year’s. Last year the team had only four seniors, and most of them were not starters. This year the team has eight returning offensive starters and 10 returning defensive starters, and most of the players are juniors and seniors, with a few younger ones. The biggest difference, Eastly added, is in the offensive and defensive lines. The majority of the linemen lifted weights regularly this past summer, making them bigger and stronger. In addition, 37 team members went to Washington State University’s football camp, and Vashon was voted most improved team at the camp. On top of that, Vashon was the only 1A team (the smallest among high schools) at the camp, which meant that Vashon’s athletes played daily against players who were from higher levels. The Pirates played against them and learned how not to be intimidated, according to Eastly. He added that it’s common for players to make the biggest gains between their sophomore and junior years, both mentally and physically, so that they become stronger, larger and more disciplined. Last year, said Eastly, was a tough one. The team won only one game, the first of the season against Highline. It was a learning year, with mostly sophomores playing varsity. It was also Eastly’s first year as the high school coach. He had coached as an assistant for five years at the high school, and then moved over to head up the McMurray Middle School program. In the meantime, he and assistant coach Rick Sassara along with Paul Wallrof started the Vashon Pirate Youth Football program, which begins in third-grade (but is not part of the school system). Sassara and Eastly coached the fifth-sixth grade team in the youth league, and now Eastly is coaching those same sixth-graders, as they come into the high school program. He has coached them for five years now, so there’s great familiarity as well as the comfort of the same plays and terminology being used throughout the program from third- to 12th-grade. “The feeder program is beginning to work,” Eastly said.