Central Washington quarterback Mike Reilly attracts interest from NFL scouts as he prepares to lead his team against Western Washington in the "Battle in Seattle" at Qwest Field tonight.

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If quarterback Mike Reilly had remained at Washington State, the odds seem overwhelming that he would start today against Oregon State.

Instead, he will lead Central Washington against Western Washington in the “Battle in Seattle” at 6 p.m. at Qwest Field.

Reilly, a walk-on from Kalispell, Mont., who had played at Kamiakin High School in Kennewick until his senior year, was one of the pleasant surprises in the 2004 Cougars spring camp.

But Reilly wanted a scholarship, and the Cougars said they didn’t have one. Reilly also admits that he probably wasn’t going to see much playing time for a while with Josh Swogger and Alex Brink ahead of him.

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“I wanted to play for four years; I didn’t want to sit on the bench and maybe get a shot for one season,” Reilly said.

Next stop, Ellensburg and the NCAA Division II Wildcats.

“It’s worked out well for me,” said Reilly, who has spent four years as the starter. He has erased some school records set by Jon Kitna and is chasing others. Kitna is a 12-year NFL veteran who plays for the Detroit Lions.

Reilly, 6 feet 3, 215 pounds, is an NFL prospect who attracts scouts to his practices. Scout.com ranks him the No. 9 quarterback prospect in the nation.

“He plays better on Saturday than he practices and he practices very hard,” Central Washington coach Blaine Bannett said of Reilly. “He really raises his level of performance in competitive environments.”

Western coach Robin Ross said, “He might be the best Division II quarterback in the nation.”

In fact, Lindy’s College Football Annual projected him this summer as the Division II Offensive Player of the Year.

The wunderkind QB is a mechanical-engineering major who will graduate in December and plans to get married in April. He has a football mind and some capable receivers in Johnny Spevak, a junior from Puyallup, and tight end Jared Bronson, a senior and former Washington Husky.

Reilly has completed 130 of 193 passes (67 percent) and thrown 18 touchdowns with just two interceptions in leading the 11th-ranked Wildcats to a 5-1 record (4-0 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference). The only loss was 38-35 on a last-second field goal at Montana of the higher-echelon Big Sky Conference.

He enters the game against Western (3-2, 3-1) with a streak of 141 passes without an interception. If he throws a touchdown pass, he will break an NCAA all-divisions record for consecutive games with a TD pass with 41. A touchdown pass also will make him Central’s leader with 100, one more than Kitna.

Reilly has passed for 10,514 career yards. Kitna’s school record is 12,353.

Central and Western are rivals, and the annual Battle in Seattle is the showcase of the rivalry because it is on the premier football stage in Washington. It has attracted more than 11,000 fans every year since it started in 2003. Tickets are $35, $25 and $15.

“As far as the importance of the game and just the pride that goes along with it, this is the biggest game of the season,” Reilly said. “This is the fourth one for me and probably the one that means the most in the big picture of things.”

Craig Smith: 206-464-8279 or csmith@seattletimes.com

Life of Reilly
Season-by-season statistics for Central Washington quarterback Mike Reilly:
Season PC PA PI Yds TD
2005 223 353 11 2696 30
2006 231 351 13 2660 21
2007 271 435 10 3386 30
2008 130 193 2 1772 18
Career 855 1332 36 10514 99
* 2008 through six games.
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