CWU_Football_Practice

Central Washington University’s head coach Chris Fisk yells to one of his players during practice Wednesday, Aug.14, 2019,in Ellensburg, Wash.

While it doesn’t affect conference standings or Division II rankings, Central Washington University still wants to take a win anytime it faces a Division I opponent.

While the last couple of years of been drubbing losses (58-13 to Eastern Washington in 2018 and 43-26 to Portland State in 2016), CWU has enjoyed success in the past.

In 2006, the Wildcats defeated Eastern 21-14, and then in 2009, beat Idaho State 33-22. While it was a loss in 2008, the University of Montana narrowly edged CWU 38-35. Two years later, CWU fell to Eastern 35-32 — in the same season Eastern won the National Championship.

And at 6 p.m. today, CWU will look to open its 2019 campaign with a victory versus Division I FCS opponent the University of Idaho in Moscow.

First-year CWU head coach Chris Fisk was nothing but optimistic about his team’s chances versus the Vandals, who fell in their season opener to No. 15 Penn State in a 79-7 carnage last Saturday.

“I think we thought that last year against Eastern and we thought it two years ago versus Portland State. I know before I was here against Montana. They thought it because Central’s been able to do that in the past,” Fisk said. “And we’ve gone in and been able to play with teams like Eastern and Idaho State and come out with W’s.”

CWU and Idaho will meet for the first time in each program’s history. Idaho, part of the Big Sky Conference, finished the 2018 season 4-7, 3-5 in conference.

Idaho returns 14 starters, eight on offense. The offensive line alone returns four, including All-American Noah Johnson.

Idaho returns standout receivers Jeff Cotton and Cutrell Haywood. Cotton, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound redshirt senior, recorded 656 yards on 49 catches with seven touchdowns in 2018. Haywood, a redshirt sophomore, caught 51 catches for 489 yards and six scores.

The Vandals featured two quarterbacks versus Penn State. Senior Mason Petrino was 11-for-17 for 91 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Junior Colton Richardson was 5-for-9 for 50 yards.

As a junior, Petrino played in all 11 games last season, starting in 10. The 6-foot quarterback was 199-of-333 for 1,933 yards and 15 touchdowns.

“Mason’s super athletic, he can move around, he’s got a good arm,” Fisk said. “He’s got really good receivers to throw to. Their O-line is big and physical.”

While Idaho is full of new faces on the defense, it was able to hold Penn State to field goals on the first two drives before the Natty Lions found a rhythm on offense.

Idaho added three Division I FBS transfers in the backfield, and one on the defensive line this past offseason.

“They’ve got as big of interior D-lineman as anybody in the country, even Penn State had trouble moving those guys,” Fisk said.

Fisk hopes CWU can match up physically with the Vandals.

“I think that we want to go up there and feel like we physically match up with those guys,” he said. “And that we can play that level of football, physically for four quarters within our own group. I think that we’re trying to go in there and execute at a high level, regardless of the plan.”

Fisk said there are still a few starting roles being gauged — including quarterback. That decision will be made at game time.

“We’ll do what we need to do at quarterback,” Fisk said. “If it comes down to rotation or naming a starter, we’ll figure that out on game day.”

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