WALLA WALLA — Eric Eastman will join the U.S. Marine Corps right after graduating from Wa-Hi in the spring.
He has already talked to a recruiter, and he will go to Camp Pendleton in San Diego, Calif.
"I have no idea where I’ll go after that. I’ll be in the infantry and go wherever they put me," he said.
That’s Eastman to a T.
No weasel words. Ask a question, get a direct answer.
In fact, Wa-Hi football coach Marc Yonts calls the 6-foot-2, 200-pound offensive and defensive tackle’s attitude a bit "salty."
And, Yonts said, it’s a perfect attitude for a defensive tackle.
Eastman does play football with a salty relish. In fact, No. 53 spends as much time in opponents’ backfields as do their quarterbacks.
"He’s a prototypical defensive lineman," Yonts said. "He’s not super big, but I’ll tell you what, pound-for-pound he’s really tough. He does a great job up front for us.
"And he’s a little salty most of the time, which helps," Yonts said with a smile. "You go back and all those great defensive linemen, Deacon Jones and (Jack) Youngblood (one-time Los Angeles Rams greats), those guys were all a little salty. He’s a little bit like that."
Eastman, of course, takes a direct look at Wa-Hi’s game with Chiawana Friday after coming off of a disappointing loss to Kamiakin last week.
Wa-Hi led 35-14 in the fourth quarter and lost 38-35 in overtime.
"We realize that coming back after that kind of a loss is tough, but we’re going to come out and fix the mistakes we made last week and work hard," Eastman said. "And we’ve been doing that so far (this week in practice)."
Eastman attended Berney Elementary and Pioneer Middle School in Walla Walla. At Pioneer he participated in basketball, wrestling, football and baseball.
Eastman played baseball as a freshman, and he has wrestled and played football since he was a freshman at Wa-Hi.
As a junior Eastman was an alternate to the Class 4A state wrestling tournament.
"That’s not where I wanted to be, but ... ," he said.
So, he’s looking forward to even more success this year.
With a military career in his future, Eastman pays some attention to politics and world affairs.
"Not real steady, but a little bit," he said.
Will he make a career of the Marines?
"Possibly; we’ll see how it goes," he said.
If he doesn’t make a career of the military, then what?
"Join the fire department, come back here and get my CDL," he said.
A Commercial Driving License is often required to drive a fire truck.
Eastman’s father Rocky is a fireman and paramedic. He mother is Stephanie, and his sister is Melissa, who was a star athlete at Wa-Hi. Melissa presently studies nursing at Eastern Washington University.
"She likes it a lot," Eastman said.
Mainly, Eastman said, he spends his free time hanging out with friends and working on his 1991 Toyota pickup.
The pickup work consists of making the truck "ready" for the mountains.
"I have a great group of friends, and we like to drive around in the Blue Mountains," Eastman said.
"I’m a big hunter, too," Eastman said. "Deer season starts this weekend, and I’ll be out there. We have a cabin in the Blues, so that makes elk hunting pretty nice.
"I don’t always get an elk, but I usually get a deer," he said.
Eastman appears a bit hesitant about discussing he prowess as a defensive tackle. He said he’s "OK" with his personal play so far this season.
Yonts said his play is better than OK.
"Eric has played awfully well," Yonts said. "If you look at our defensive stats, he’s probably the statistical leader with pressures and tackles for a loss and sacks. He’s so quick, and he’s real good with his hands.
"And he’s a wrestler, so he’s a tough kid," Yonts said. "We tease him about being crabby, but he definitely brings a workmanlike attitude to practice and to games.
"So he’s just a little crabby," Yonts said. "And we’ve all been there. He does a great job."
As usual, Eastman views his personal play head-on.
"I know I can play better," he said. "I’m out here (at practice) hoping to get a little better each day. We have some other real good ‘D’ linemen, and when (opponents) are focusing on them, it lets me sneak in sometimes.
"We all help each other out," Eastman said. "We’re playing as a team. We’re not playing as individuals. That’s the big thing."
Eastman expects Chiawana, a new school in Pasco that joined the Big Nine Conference for the first time this season, will be tough despite a 1-4, 1-5 record.
"Our plan Friday is to play hard, to play them tough," Eastman said. "It’s going to be a big physical game, and we have to play physical, too."
Asked if he had any other comment, the salty Eastman said, "Just tell my parents that I love them."
WALLA WALLA — Wa-Hi coach Marc Yonts refuses to underestimate the Chiawana football team for Friday’s homecoming football game.
"Chiawana is young, but they’ve got some good football players," Yonts continued. "You can tell that on film.
"We played them in the spring camp," Yonts continued. "We had some success early. Then we played them later in the week, and they were markedly better just in the course of a week.
"You look at them on film now, and they don’t look like a bunch of juniors and sophomores," Yonts said.
It’s the Riverhawks’ first season of competitive Big Nine Conference play. The team has no seniors, and it comes to Borleske Stadium for a Friday night game with a 1-4 Cascade Division record, 1-5 overall.
Wa-Hi is now 3-2 in the division and 3-3 overall.
The Riverhawks, however, boast a veteran coaching staff led by Steve Graff, which moved from Pasco High to the new school.
And they have some notable ex-Pasco High athletes.
Sophomore Miquyah Zamora (5-foot-11, 175) earned first-team all-division honors as a freshman cornerback last year, and received pre-season all-state recognition by the Tacoma New Tribune this fall.
Junior tackle Nick Vincent (6-1, 200) started at Pasco as a freshman and has received two all-division first-team honors.
Sophomore linebacker Jordan Downing (6-0, 185) also earned all-division honors as a freshman.
And the Riverhawk quarterback is the coach’s son.
Junior quarterback Luc Graff (6-0, 180) has completed 88-of-176 passes for 880 yards and nine touchdowns, with six interceptions.
Downing at running back has carried 109 times for 536 yards and three TDs.
Sophomore receiver C.J. Edington (5-9, 155) has caught 23 passes for 181 yards, and two TDs. Zamora has caught 18 passes for 191 yards and one TD.
Wa-Hi counters with quarterback Michael Weisner (6-6, 180) who has completed 65-for-123 attempts for 1,004 yards and 12 TDs with four interceptions.
Wa-Hi’s leading rusher is Austin Schilling (5-11, 180) who has carried 102 times for 594 yards and five TDs.
Wa-Hi’s leading receiver, Colton Arias, may miss another week with a leg injury. He has caught 20 passes for 273 and four TDS.
"Chiawana has an excellent coaching staff," Yonts said. "Those guys are fun to coach against. Their teams are always well coached. They get the most out of the kids. Those are the games you like to play.
"I like how we match up," Yonts said. "But can we bounce back from the tough loss last week?"
Wa-Hi lost to Kamiakin 38-35 in overtime after leading 35-14 in the fourth quarter.
"We had a good practice Tuesday in the rain. We were a little flat (Wednesday), along with the distractions of homecoming week," Yonts said. "We just have to fight all of that off and go play football, go toe-to-toe.
"The kids will be fine. We just have to get back to playing and go out and have a good performance," Yonts said. "We want to play well in front of the home fans.
"It should be fun."