Anytime you take 40 future college football players, and put them on the same gridiron with bragging rights on the line, fireworks are sure to go off. That’s exactly what’s happening this Friday night at Tomlinson Field in Ellensburg, Washington.

The All-state game features top talent from nearly every single county across the state. The two teams are divided into players from the westside and eastside. Naturally with this format, both teams are going to want to showcase their side of the state has the superior brand of football. 

Participants have many different reasons to compete in this game. For the future college players that are not yet able to participate in their college spring ball, this gives them a chance to compete in an event that somewhat resembles a spring ball.

For other participants, this will be their last chance to ever strap on the shoulder pads, and knock some bodies around.

Presented here are 8 fun facts that you need to know about the East-West 3A/4A All-State game. 

The intensity is far higher than a typical all-star game

If you’re a first time viewer of the all-state game, you might be worried that it will look similar to the NFL Pro Bowl; Where there’s a quick whistle and general lack of urgency. This is not the case at all with the all-state game. QB’s are fair game, linebackers are going to be aggressive, and running backs will have to hit the holes hard against elite defenders.

These players are all competing on this stage because they love the game and want to be there. After a rigorous week of practice, expects them to unleash on Friday night.

Players are nominated through their high school leagues

During the All-League awards meeting, coaches nominate the top players from their league to represent the conference at the All-State game. The pool of nominees is then sent to the All-State Selection committee, where they handpick 34 players for both the East and West teams.

The move to Tomlinson Stadium was years in the making

Ever since it was announced that Tomlinson Stadium was going to be renovated back in 2017, CWU and the Washington State Football Coaches Association have been in talks of having marquee high school football played at the new stadium. This would include the All-State game, which has traditionally been played in Moses Lake and Spokane.

CWU has been tremendous in hosting high school football camps for many years now, and the WSFCA felt a natural next step would be to start hosting games as well. Don’t be surprised if regular season football is played at Tomlinson stadium down the line.

The East doesn’t just mean the eastside of the state

The way the game is formatted with east vs west, it might lead you to believe that this is Spokane vs Seattle. That’s only partly correct. The west team is indeed represented by Seattle area teams (KingCo, Wesco, Metros, and NPSL), but the east team has players from Spokane, Yakima, and also Vancouver and Tacoma.

This is largely because of the disproportionately large population of the Seattle area compared to the eastside of the state. Adding in Vancouver and Tacoma evens up the populations. It also to maintain competitive balance, as the majority of the state’s Division I prospects reside in the Seattle area. 

All-State assistant Daniel Caldwell coaches special teams
All-State assistant Daniel Caldwell coaches special teams

The super elite recruits won’t participate

At the end of the day, college football players are an investment by their respective universities. The goal is to find players that will win them games, which will then raise their national profile, which will then hopefully generate revenue for the school. 

This is the primary reason why you won’t see elite prospects like Graham Kapowisin’s Dylan Morris or Rainier Beach’s Nathaniel Kalepo at this game. Both these players are now playing for the University of Washington. If either of them were to get a major injury, it would be a major blow to UW Football’s long term plans.

Players have to be ‘cleared to play’ by their college team 

Because of the injury risk, all participants have to be cleared by their future team. Most FCS, D2, D3, and NAIA teams are totally fine with their future players participating, as they see the pros of playing far outweigh the injury risk. 

Some of these pros include a chance at a miniature spring ball, incentive to stay in shape during springtime, and it’s undeniable the more you practice, the better you’re going to be come fall camp.

The All-state game can simulate what players will experience in college

When these players arrive on campus in the Fall, they’re not going to know any of their teammates, they’re not going to know the playbook, and they are going to be in an unfamiliar town. Sounds an awful lot like what happening at the All-State game. 

During their five days in Ellensburg, these players are working with brand new teammates, learning new playbooks in quick fashion, and taking coaching from an unfamiliar staff.

Combine that with sleeping in dorms, and eating in the cafeteria, and these players are getting a taste of what college ball will be like. 

Preparation is a rigorous test of Football IQ

As physically demanding as it is to practice 6 times in 4 days, what might be even more challenging is to learn an entire playbook in 72 hours.

Not only does each position group need to learn their assignments, but they also need to develop chemistry quickly with each other in order to execute. Quarterbacks need to get their timing down with their receivers, and defensive players need to understand all the audibles being called. 

The good news for both teams is they essentially plucked the smartest football minds from each conference in Washington. You don’t become an All-State level player without having a strong football IQ. Both coaching staffs have lauded their players ability to be quick learners and master the concepts. 

Head coach of the east squad, Jason Ronquillo, talks new offensive installs
Head coach of the east squad, Jason Ronquillo, talks new offensive installs

A big reason why the All-State game was moved to Tomlinson Stadium in Ellensburg, Washington was to inject new energy into the game. Now that the game is being played at the newest college football stadium in Washington, there is hope that the game can continue to grow.

This years group of players is extremely excited to put on a show this Friday night. When you’re putting the best players in Washington up against each other, the chances are good something special is going to happen. 

Kickoff is set for 6pm this Friday night, 7/12, at Tomlinson Stadium in Ellensburg, Washington. Tickets can be purchased at the Tomlinson Stadium box office prior to gametime.

More From 1460 ESPN