Sears to see familiar face across the field on Saturday

Sep 19 2012 - 10:57pm

OGDEN -- There are a plenty of firsts for Weber State interim head coach Jody Sears in going through the Big Sky Conference, but his first league opponent is an old acquaintance.

Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin was the offensive coordinator for the Eagles from 2003-06, lining up every day in practice against a defense coordinated by Sears.

The two coordinators earned shares of Big Sky championships together at Eastern Washington in 2004 and 2005 before Baldwin left to become the head coach of Division II Central Washington in 2007. He returned to take the EWU job in 2008 when Paul Wulff's staff, including Sears, moved on to Washington State.

The Eagles have soared even higher with Baldwin as head coach, winning the Football Championship Subdivision title in 2010.

Eastern Washington (1-1) is currently ranked No. 9 in the country as Baldwin brings his squad to Ogden this Saturday at 6 p.m. to face Sears and Weber State (0-3) in the Wildcats' Homecoming game at Stewart Stadium.

"I'm really looking forward to it," Sears said. "I know a lot of the faces of the players have changed, but it will be nice to see Beau and the boys.

"It will be fun. We used to lock horns every day in practice and it will be fun to get back to the old days a little bit."

Sears says Baldwin hasn't changed his coaching philosophy much, but familiarity won't be an advantage in Saturday's contest. Sears knows Beau's offensive tendencies; by the same token, Baldwin knows Sears' defensive approach.

"You can't dive too far into that kind of thinking from a coaching standpoint in my opinion," Sears said. "We've got to control what we can control and that's how hard we're playing.

"Our biggest concern right now is how consistent we are, and how we are going to practice to get that level of consistency, play after play, for four quarters."

Eastern has a tradition of good coaches and Baldwin is no different, Sears said.

"I loved my time there. We had a great staff, we had a great administration, we had good players," he said. "You turn the film on and things haven't changed at all. Beau does a tremendous job with those kids. They play hard, they're very well-coached."

WSU defensive line coach Jason Belford played at Eastern Washington for both Sears and Baldwin, earning second-team All-Big Sky Conference honors as a senior in 2008.

Belford, a defensive end, started 36 games at EWU and ranks 11th for most sacks in school history. He's looking forward to the matchup with his friends.

"It's pretty fun, in terms of you recognize some things, like (Sears) obviously is going to recognize some things because we were both coordinators on the same staff," Baldwin said. "Once you get out there and play, some of that stuff is kind of gone. The guys are just out there playing.

"You can match wits all you want during the week but they've got to go out and make plays on the field and that's what it's going to come down to.

"It's gonna be fun to see coach Sears, see coach Belford and see a couple of those guys that I have a ton of respect for and that I'm rooting for in every game except for this one."

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