As the largest member of Eastern Washington University’s football recruiting class for 2017, Olympia High School’s Amir Matheney was not going to let anything shatter his future dreams.
“Someday,” Matheney said, “we should be in the national championship.”
However, when Beau Baldwin packed up his things and headed to Cal as the newest Pac-12 offensive coordinator, it left Eastern without a head coach — three weeks before signing day.
And it left committed recruits asking, “What’s next?”
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That is when Matheny intervened. The 6-foot-2, 300-pounder started a rally among his fellow incoming standouts.
He dubbed it, “Savage ’17.”
“I know we are going to be close the next 4-5 years,” said Matheney, who gave an oral commitment to Eastern last summer and signed his national letter of intent Wednesday at Olympia. “And we have the same goal. I just wanted to help bond that brotherhood early on.”
Each time a recruit committed to the Eagles, Matheney was one of the first people to welcome him to the class on social media.
And, occasionally, he would moderate iMessage group chats.
“We were always talking to each other — talking life and when everybody would be coming up (to campus),” Matheney said.
Matheney’s involvement helped make the coaching transition from Baldwin to new coach Aaron Best much easier.
“(Matheney) is the orchestrator behind the ‘Savage ’17,’ ” Best said. “He has an infectious personality. ... He’s a professional at the high school level in the way he carries himself. What that tells us is that he’s got a lot of leadership skills.”
Oh, yeah, Matheney is pretty good at football, too. He projects to be a nose guard.
“He has a skill set for the football field to boot,” Best said.
Of Eastern’s 19 signees, nine come from the South Sound. Some of them are players Matheney played against in the 4A Narrows League and 4A South Puget Sound League. Most of the names he’s known for years.
“This (recruiting) class is amazing,” Matheney said. “It’s a great class, with a lot of athletes and big boys on both sides of the ball.”
Olympia’s Jenna Killman didn’t see herself playing soccer at New Mexico — until she visited.
Then, the choice was easy for The Olympian’s reigning All-Area girls soccer player of the year.
“That was kind of the perfect place for me,” Killman said.
Killman said she connected with the coaching staff and players, and liked the academic programs the school offered. And getting away from the rain won’t hurt.
“It’s completely different from where I live now, and that’s what I wanted to do,” Killman said. “College is the only time you get to go and explore and live somewhere else for four years. ... I fell in love with it instantly.”
Tumwater’s Stephanie Moore, another Olympian All-Area girls soccer selection, signed with Colorado Mesa.
North Thurston’s Olivia Fairchild signed to play volleyball at Western Washington back in November, but celebrated on Wednesday in the school’s library.
Fairchild, an Olympian All-Area volleyball selection, said she’s enjoying having the process complete.
“Volleyball tournaments now aren’t as stressful as they were last year, when I had to be stressed out about who was recruiting,” she said.
Taking their time
North Thurston’s Ryan Burgman and Olympia’s Skyler Davis both made late decisions — but both say they made the right ones.
“It took me a while to decide where I wanted to go,” Burgman said.
Burgman celebrated his 18th birthday on Tuesday. Then, he celebrated on Wednesday by signing to play football at the University of Puget Sound.
“All during finals week,” he joked.
The two-time Olympian All-Area selection said he liked the atmosphere and coaches at the Tacoma school throughout the recruiting process.
“I kind of liked how they’re up and coming. ... I’ve always wanted to help build something,” Burgman said.
Davis, another Olympian All-Area selection, announced his football commitment to George Fox only hours before he signed.
He said he knew he’d play Division III football somewhere, but knew for sure where after a visit to the campus in Newberg, Oregon.
“I think it’s the perfect level for me to be able to continue my education at the highest level I can, and then also be able to play football still,” Davis said.
Headed to Wyoming
Former River Ridge athlete Trey Dorfner will play football at Wyoming after signing his national letter of intent at Grovetown High School in Georgia.
The senior, who was a standout running back for the Hawks, moved to Georgia last month to live with his stepfather and two younger brothers.
“I’ve been a lot of different places. ... I knew it was the best thing for me,” Dorfner said.
Dorfner will make another move in June — planning on a four-year stop in Laramie, Wyoming.
He said it was a wake-up call when he committed to play for the Cowboys in October. Now, reality is setting in.
“It’s something that makes me really, really happy,” Dorfner said. “To play football for another four years is a dream come true.”
Staff writer Lauren Smith contributed to this report.
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442, @ManyHatsMilles
Lauren Smith: 360-754-5473, @smithlm12
National Signing Day
Athletes from across the greater Olympia area signed National Letters of Intent on Wednesday to continue their athletic careers in college.
New Mexico Highlands
Southwestern Oregon C.C.