Game in 2012 to be held day after Thanksgiving in Pullman

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The Apple Cup this year has a new venue — CenturyLink Field — and next year brings something novel as well.

The 2012 game will be in Pullman on Friday, Nov. 23 — the day after Thanksgiving.

Game time for the 2012 game hasn’t been determined, but it likely will be known next spring when some television deals take shape.

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An official outside the Washington State and Washington athletic departments confirmed the Apple Cup date. Bill Moos, the Cougars’ athletic director, mentioned the switch at a Friday luncheon in Pullman.

The day-after-Thanksgiving date is believed to be unprecedented for a WSU hosting of the Apple Cup. The Cougars have traditionally resisted a Thanksgiving-weekend home game because students are on break.

But the Pac-12’s new Fox/ESPN contract takes effect next year, mandating a heavy dose of Thursday and Friday games.

Several other factors have caused a scheduling crunch: the Pac-12 title game, now taking up the first weekend in December; the NCAA’s provision in 2006 for 12th games; Stanford’s and USC’s games with Notre Dame late in November when the Pac-12 team is the host; and in some years, the calendar providing for one less Saturday in the window in which the schedule must take place by NCAA rule.

In the post-World War II era, when WSU played games at Spokane’s Albi Stadium, the Apple Cup was played five times on Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, but never on the day after Thanksgiving.

Cougars seniors

in final home game

Fourteen senior members of the WSU team will be honored on Senior Day during the Cougars’ Pac-12 contest with Utah on Saturday.

The senior group ranges from players who are on the field for virtually every down, like left tackle David Gonzales, to those who have spent most of their Pullman time on the scout team, like defensive backs Trase Pickering and Anthony Martinez.

“They’ve worked really hard,” coach Paul Wulff said of all the seniors. “They’ve laid a great foundation of work ethic and commitment for all the young players. Some of these guys have been through a lot in their career here.”

The group includes three players who fit the mold of the type of player Wulff says he works hard to attract.

One is Alex Hoffman-Ellis, who played one year of high-school football, another at the junior-college level in Southern California.

Wulff and his staff took a chance with the 6-foot-1, 231-pound linebacker because he had speed, more than any of the more experienced guys at his position WSU was recruiting.

It took a couple years, but Hoffman-Ellis played his way into the lineup and this season has become the Cougars’ best defender, leading WSU with 72 tackles.

“Alex is great in so many ways,” Wulff said. “He’s got all the physical traits you would like and has developed into a leader. He didn’t come in as a leader, but he watched and learned and listened and grew.”

Another prime example is Jared Karstetter, a 6-4, 210-pound wide receiver from Ferris High in Spokane. With 45 catches this season, he’s moved up to fourth on the WSU career list with 151.

He was named to the Pac-12’s All-Academic first team this week, his 3.61 grade-point average in zoology — Karstetter is headed to dental school — earning him that award for the second consecutive year.

“He’s a great competitor,” Wulff said. “He’s a winner in everything he does. He sets the tone for all those young receivers and everyone on this football team.”

The third prime example is Marshall Lobbestael. No one has probably taken over as the starting quarterback from more different players — and then replaced by someone else — than Lobbestael in his time at WSU.

Through it all, the fifth-year senior from Oak Harbor has pledged his support — and showed it during games — to the players who have replaced him.

“Marshall is the ultimate team player,” Wulff said. “A positive guy with a lot of passion for the game. Takes a lot of pride in his friends and the friendships he has.”


• The Board of Regents of WSU gave approval Friday for an $80 million project to add premium seating and a new press box on the south side of Martin Stadium. The regents’ approval will allow construction to begin Monday.

The Spokesman-Review contributed to this report.

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