Football Practice

Central Washington senior quarterback Reilly Hennessey participates in practice on Aug. 7 in Ellensburg. Hennessey is returning to Eastern Washington University for the first time in two years where he was a quarterback for the Eagles.

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Central Washington quarterback Reilly Hennessey knows Eastern Washington University’s Roos Field all too well.

During his sophomore season, he suited up for the Eagles and completed 21 of 28 passes for 226 yards and three touchdowns against Northern Iowa.

But when Hennessey returns to Roos Field on Saturday, roughly two years to the date, it won’t be the same. He will make the walk across the stadium’s infamous red turf and stand alone on the opposite sideline.

Now starting his senior year, he leads the Division II Wildcats fresh off their best season in eight years.

“It’s going to be weird,” Hennessey said. “If you believe in fate, maybe this had to happen somehow. I’m going to be playing against a lot of guys I’m still very close with and talk to all the time throughout the year.”

ARRIVING IN CHENEY

Hennessey graduated from Camas High School and signed his national letter of intent to play for Eastern Washington.

During his redshirt freshman season he made two starts including the season opener against Oregon where he threw for 145 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The next year, he showcased his arm against Northern Iowa in the Eagles’ first game but the coaching staff decided to give the starting job to Hennessey’s teammate and good friend Gage Gubrud.

“I was fortunate enough to play my redshirt freshman season but we got a new offensive coordinator and that system fit Gage a little bit better,” Hennessey said. “It was the right decision because we went to all the way to the FCS semifinals. There was no bad blood or anything.”

Hennessey said he battled with the decision to transfer after the season’s end, but it came down to still wanting to play with two years of eligibility remaining.

“I just felt it was time for me to find a new home,” Hennessey said. “I didn’t want to sit there and hope for one of my best friends to get injured or not play well.”

TRANSFERRING TO CWU

Hennessey sought advice from former Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin who was instrumental finding him a match with Central Washington.

“We were actually looking for a transfer at that point and fortunate it was good timing and everything worked out,” said CWU head coach Ian Shoemaker.

Last season Hennessey finished with more than 2,500 yards passing, 28 touchdowns and also rushed for five scores.

Needless to say, everything worked out.

“I can’t complain,” Hennessey said. “I love this university, I love the city, and I love the football program. As you can see (with the new stadium being built), the program is doing very special things.”

IN-STATE RIVALRY

Not only will this be Hennessey’s return to Roos Stadium, but also the first time Central Washington has played Eastern Washington since 2010 where the Eagles squeaked out a 35-23 win at Century Link Stadium in Seattle.

“This is a great game for Washington football with both rosters full of great athletes from all over the state,” Shoemaker said. “(This game) will challenge us physically, like any other game, but it will also give us some good insight into our preparation as a staff and as a team. We are excited to get on the field with (Eastern) and test ourselves against a team of their caliber.”

Eastern Washington comes in as the FCS’ No. 7 team in he country and picked as the favorite to win the Big Sky Conference in both the coaches and media polls.

Kickoff is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.

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