Oct. 12, 2006
This article was originally featured in the WSU-Idaho game day program from Sept. 9, 2006, and was reprinted with permission from KXLY Group.
For the Cougar football team, the summer break was spent much like any other summer. A few student-athletes took a summer class or two, while some decided to take on the responsibility of a summer job. No matter the activity, however, Cougar football players had one common hobby: summer conditioning. The team is led by a group of dedicated and eager senior linebackers in Steve Dildine, Brian Hall, Chris Baltzer and Scott Davis whose main focus this preseason will be to step it up in the weight room.
"The conditioning aspect has gone up," said senior linebacker, Steve Dildine. "This is the most rigorous running workout that we've done in the five years we've been here."
WSU football takes to the field for the 2006 season looking to improve on last year's 4-7 overall record. The Cougar offense returns six starters from 2005, and, of the 11 defensive starters, six are seniors, giving the WSU defense a group with experience who believe that WSU football has the keys to a winning season.
"We have the talent, we have the guys, it's just a matter of putting it together," said Hall.
This unique group of senior linebackers has been bleeding crimson and gray on the field since their freshman seasons. Hall, Dildine and Davis have been a part of the Cougar football team since the summer of 2002. All three red-shirted that fall and returned for the 2003 season, when Baltzer joined the team.
"Ever since we've been here there have never even been three senior linebackers," said Davis. "There's always been one or two."
With a young group of returning linebackers behind the seniors, these four offer experience and leadership to the future Cougar linebackers.
"Being seniors, we've been through so much," Baltzer said. "We can pass that on to the younger guys."
In their time as Cougars, the four have experienced two ten-win seasons, two bowl games, two Apple Cup victories and a thrilling overtime victory over USC in 2002. In their four years of playing together, the group has developed a relationship both on the field and off.
"We'll room together when we're on the road, all eat at the same table" said Hall. "We stick together."
One goal on the mind of these four athletes is a third consecutive Apple Cup victory. If victorious in November, the four could be part of the first group of Cougar football players to ever win three Apple Cups in a row. Before they can start thinking that late into the season, however, the focus now is the start of the 2006 season, primarily their opening game at Auburn.
"Football is a religion down there," Baltzer said. "There would be nothing better than to go down there and beat them."