Jamin Fa’alogo took a quick look up in the stands as friends and family poured onto the field at Tomlinson Stadium following the East’s 48-7 runaway victory in 3A/4A East-West All-Star Game Saturday evening.

Fa’alogo was one of eight Central Washington University recruits playing the final high school game of their careers in the annual summer classic at the very facility they will play college ball for the Wildcats this fall.

“Just looking around this place, I see the future. It was fun and scary at the same time,” the 6-foot-2, 240-pound linebacker from Timberline High School in Lacey. “It was fun to play one more game against the best high school players in the state. You could just feel the energy from the crowd, playing in this facility. Now it’s time to go to work.”

The East scored on its opening drive, capping a seven-play, 65-yard drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Robinson of Yelm to Wenatchee’s Darius Carlson to set the tone three minutes into the game.

The East would score in big chunks the rest of the way. Liam Bladow (Lakes) connected with Kodee Gifford (Yelm) on an 80-yard scoring strike right before the half. Gifford hauled in his second touchdown pass in the third quarter on an acrobatic deep corner rout in the end zone, his second of the game from Robinson.

East side running backs got into the act with some big time runs. Isaiah Saldana broke off a 29-yard scamper in the second quarter, and also took a pick 6 to the house on the defensive side when he returned a pass interception for a touchdown to give the East a comfortable 34-7 lead.

“Playing here was kind of surreal,” said Jaiden Thomas-Fuertes, a 6-2, 280-pound lineman from Spanaway Lake, who is headed to CWU in the fall. “I really liked playing in a game where everybody’s headed to college. I think it’s a good experience and gives me a chance to see what I’ll be going against when I get here.”

Maybe the defensive play of the game came in the fourth quarter when Riley Noah (Kelso) stepped in front of Kelen Krane’s pass on the 14-yard line and returned the Eastern Washington commit’s errant pass 86 yards for the touchdown.

“It looked like a mile to the end zone, but I just kept going,” said Noah, who’s also headed to CWU.

In fact the game almost ended on a third East side pick 6 when Michael Flaherty (Lewis & Clark) returned a pass interception to the West 5-yard line where he was knocked out of bounds with 10 seconds remaining.

The game was Jeremy Banks’ final game as a wide receiver. He was recruited by the Wildcats to play corner back. But the 6-1, 188-pound Kentridge standout scored when he went up in traffic to haul in a pass at midfield and was off to the races for a 69-yard touchdown reception from Krane for the West’s only score.

“They recruited me to play corner back at Central,” Banks said. “It was a lot of fun to come here and play against the best high school players in the state and get a chance to see what it’s like to play on this field. I have a lot of work to do, but I’m looking forward to spending the next four years here.”


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