Signing Day: Local football, soccer players chart their paths

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Interviews with local football and soccer athletes during national signing day on Feb. 1, 2017.

Some made their decisions within the last week or so.

Some did months ago.

At least one made up her mind years ago.

Still, Wednesday was the day they could make it all official, when football and soccer players could sign letters of intent.

“It’s been a dream since I was 4 or 5. My goal was to become Pac-12, to go to the top level,” said Sarah Davidson, a Camas soccer player who signed with Washington State. “I feel like someone should pinch me. It didn’t feel like it was actually real.”

Camas had three Division I football players and one Division I soccer player sign on the first day of the signing period. Battle Ground had a couple Division I football players. There were more Division I athletes at Ridgefield, Columbia River, and Skyview.

In all, The Columbian, as of 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, had reports of 20 football players and 20 girls and boys soccer players going to four-year schools.

(Technically, only NCAA Division I and II athletes sign letters of intent, but The Columbian notes in its high school sports blog all local athletes moving on to four-year schools.)

Camas celebrated more than a dozen athletes Wednesday, including those from other sports, which have various signing days throughout the academic year.

This day, though, traditionally belongs to football and soccer players

Michael Matthews (Montana), Caleb Eldred (Idaho State), and Dylan Ingram (Eastern Washington University) are Division-I football players Camas.

“It’s a huge day, making everything official,” Matthews said. “It was a really exciting morning in my household. My mom was all kinds fired about it. It was just cool to see it all on that paper.”

“It was something I dreamed about since I was a kid running around in the middle of my living room, full pads on, watching (football) on TV,” said Ingram. “It was kind of like a far-fetched dream, but then it became a goal. Now, wow, this is real.”

Eldred’s journey to his college was interesting.

“Out of nowhere, Idaho State popped up,” Eldred said.

His first contact with the team came in January, long after the football season concluded. Within 48 hours, he had a scholarship offer.

“It blind-sided me,” Eldred said.

He rushed to Pocatello ,loved the campus and quick like that, his mind was made.

The Camas ceremony had an extra bonus this year. The football and girls soccer teams won Class 4A state championships in the fall.

Battle Ground also had a ceremony for its athletes.

Brady Brick is going to Portland State.

“The offense is a lineman’s dream,” he said of PSU.

“I’ve known for a long time where I was going go,” he added. “It wasn’t like I was going to switch. But today I’m finally officially a Viking. I’m part of the team now.”

Gunner Talkington, who broke every school passing record as the quarterback of the Tigers the past three seasons, signed a preferred walk-on sheet with Eastern Washington.

“The coaches there are giving me a chance to prove what I’ve got,” Talkington said.

He likely could have gone to a smaller program but he loves the Eagles.

“It’s been my dream school since I was a little kid,” Talkington said.

Taryn Ries of Ridgefield was expected to sign with the University of Portland for soccer. Contacted Tuesday night, she said she has never wavered since telling the Pilots she would sign with them way back when Ries was a freshman in high school.

“I like the small classes. It will be best for me,” Ries said. “It’s also close to home. And I like their program’s history.”

Ries will be joined at Portland by Ellie Walker, who led Columbia River to the Class 2A state title last fall.

Over at Skyview, Skyler Martin got up real early for a ceremony that took place before school started. Martin then signed with Montana football.

“Today was amazing because it was all the hard work paying off,” Martin said. “I can’t wait to carry on the tradition of Montana Griz football.”

Columbia River also was scheduled to have a small get-together for some of its football and soccer players.

Mason Schell of Columbia River football is a preferred walk-on at Arizona State, according to River coach Christian Swain.

Note: The high school sports blog at 360preps.com has a list of dozens of athletes, from all sports, who have made their decisions regarding college. For those not on the list, or for those who will be making decisions in the coming days and weeks, please contact The Columbian via e-mail: sports@columbian.com