WATCH: Eatonville has pieces in place to contend in 2A SPSL Sound
It’s like Tristan Graf is family already.
The new starting quarterback for the Cruisers’ football team moved to Eatonville from Puyallup with his parents in the spring. Shortly after arriving, he discovered running back Ray Springer is a cousin of his — on his mom’s side, they say.
And Graf played with left tackle Jakob Wolfe throughout middle school when they both lived in Fife.
Graf’s dual-threat skill set helps with the embracing process, too. Eatonville coach George Fairhart, who is entering his 24th year as the school’s coach, was asked how Graf has fit in so far.
“Oh, he fits,” Fairhart laughed. “He’s got a strong arm and he’s really accurate. He’s really accurate when the play breaks down and he keeps his eyes down field. He’s always looking for the big play.
“And he’s a great kid. He works hard, he’s not cocky, he’s a team leader. The kids like him and listen to him.”
So much for that position being the Cruisers’ biggest question mark after Jacob McCormick graduated. McCormick threw for 2,183 yards and 23 touchdowns last year, when he led Eatonville to the 1A state playoffs for the second consecutive season.
“There were a lot of questions at the quarterback position,” Springer said. “God answered with Tristan.”
Graf played for Puyallup last year, but tore his ACL in the first game when he twisted his knee making a tackle while playing linebacker.
He was born in Oahu in Hawaii before moving to Washington. He played at Fife his freshman year before transferring to Puyallup, a 4A school.
Eatonville will play in the Sound division of the 2A South Puget Sound League this year after playing the past two years in the 1A Evergreen Conference.
“I thought it was like God’s next door,” said Graf, who is 6-foot, 205 pounds. “It’s an opportunity.
“Coming here from Puyallup, I didn’t know how they were going to take to me. Their attitude has been great and it’s been great for me.”
He still has to ice his knee and he said it gets tight, but he also said he feels faster than he’s ever been.
Springer becomes the primary ball carrier after playing mostly at wide receiver last year, though he carried the ball 48 times for 208 yards last season.
And he’ll have a massive line to run behind, led by Wolfe, who is 6-foot-8, 315 pounds.
Maybe more shocking is that Wolfe is even larger than his father, Eatonville assistant Steve Wolfe. Steve, a Puyallup High grad who played for Mike Huard, was the center for Drew Bledsoe at Washington State in the early 1990s.
Jakob Wolfe said he frequently attended WSU football games with his father growing up, and he’d like to eventually play there like his dad did.
“I’ve loved the Palouse ever since I was a little kid,” Wolfe said. “I’m a country kid, I want to stay out in the woods. I just love the town of Pullman.”
Eatonville will likely have to go through River Ridge, Steilacoom and Orting if it wants to make it three consecutive trips to the state playoffs. Fairhart said the biggest challenge this year will be getting his players to believe they can match up against these bigger 2A schools.
“You grow up as a 1A kid and you play all these 1A school and now you move up,” Fairhart said. “We have to get kids to believe they can compete.
“We’ve been here before. There are some teams I’m not familiar with … but we’ve played Steilacoom and Clover Park and Orting almost every year. We’re a little bit familiar. There are some quality coaches and it’s going to be tough.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677