Here’s everything you need to know about Eastern Washington University football ahead of its Saturday title game clash with North Dakota State:
Eastern Washington school and program history
Main campus: Cheney, Washington
Year founded: 1882
Team nickname: Eagles
— #3 EWU Football (@EWUFootball) December 31, 2018
Colors: Red and white
Conference: Big Sky
Home stadium (Capacity): Roos Field (8,600)
FCS national championship years: 2010
Notable football alumni: Samson Embukam, Taiwan Jones, Cooper Kupp, Bob Picard, Michael Roos
FCS CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: Everything you need to know about North Dakota State
Eastern Washington’s road to Frisco
Coach: Aaron Best (19-6 in two seasons at Eastern Washington)
Best was promoted to head coach of his alma mater in 2017 after serving as EWU’s offensive coordinator for the previous nine years. Overall, he’s been part of the Eagles’ coaching staff in some capacity for 17 of the past 18 seasons, including the Eagles’ 2010 championship run.
EWU finished 7-4 and missed the postseason in Best’s debut season at the helm. This year, Best was named Big Sky coach of the year, guiding the Eagles to a 12-2 record and a conference crown.
Record: 12-2 (7-1 Big Sky)
Regular season ranked wins: No. 4 UC Davis, 59-20 (Nov. 10).
Eastern Washington’s notable statistics
Scoring offense: 44.5 points per game (third in nation)
Scoring defense: 21.6 points allowed per game (20th)
Passing offense: 277.4 yards per game (17th)
Passing defense: 228.9 yards allowed per game (84th)
Rushing offense: 263.0 yards per game (10th)
Rushing defense: 156.7 yards allowed per game (46th)
Turnover margin: +11 (eighth)
Eastern Washington players to watch
Eric Barriere | Quarterback | Redshirt sophomore
Eastern Washington headed into 2018 set at quarterback with Gage Gubrud, a two-time Walter Payton Award finalist. But that changed five games into the season when Gubrud went down with a season-ending injury on Sept. 29. Enter Barriere, who didn’t miss a beat leading the third best offense in the country. The dual-threat QB finished with 31 total touchdowns in 13 appearances. In EWU’s semifinals win, Barriere lit up Maine with 352 passing yards and seven touchdowns.
Nsimba Webster | Wide receiver | Redshirt senior
Webster has reached the end zone 11 times this season and has almost doubled up the next closest EWU receiver in passes caught this year (Webster has 80; Andrew Boston is next closest with 43). The 5-10, 180-pound speedster hauled in four touchdowns and had 188 yards against Maine in the semifinals.
Sam McPherson | Running back | Senior
EWU has always been known for its dynamic passing game, but one reason why the Eagles have taken the next step this year in returning to Frisco stems from its more balanced offense. An experienced and talented offensive line clears the way for lead rusher McPherson, who has totaled 1,564 scrimmage yards this year. The Bothell, Washington native has three touchdowns this postseason.
— FCS Football (@NCAA_FCS) December 15, 2018
Ketner Kupp | Linebacker | Senior
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp drew much of the spotlight when he was a 2013-16 Eastern Washington standout, but now his brother Ketner will get an opportunity Cooper never had: competing for an FCS championship. Kupp leads the Eagles with 104 tackles and pitched in 5.5 tackles for loss. His one interception this season was returned for a 95-yard touchdown against Nicholls in the second round.
Josh Lewis | Cornerback | Redshirt senior
EWU’s offense didn’t have the only standout performance in the blowout win against Maine. Lewis had two interceptions and three pass breakups to help the Eagles punch their ticket to Frisco. The senior has a team-leading five picks on the season. Eastern Washington leads the FCS with six defensive touchdowns, and Lewis is always a threat to add to that number.
Mitchell Johnson | Defensive end | Redshirt freshman
Johnson became a huge factor on the defensive line in his first season of action, registering eight tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and two interceptions on the season. He was named to HERO Sports’ freshman All-American team and earned second team all-conference honors.