Branson Schmidt knows his work is cut out for him.
The Central Valley football lineman has accepted a preferred walk-on invitation to attend Eastern Washington University. That means in time he could earn a scholarship.
CV coach Rick Giampietri believes the walk-on status gives Schmidt plenty of leverage.
“I think walk-ons end up being better players in the long run,” Giampietri said. “They have a little more something to prove. Not that scholarship kids aren’t going to be good, too. But being a walk-on, it’s a tough road to stick with.”
Schmidt will play his first game on the Roos Field red turf at EWU on Friday as part of the 47th annual East/West All-Star Summer Classic.
“I’m really excited about the game,” Schmidt said. “I know most of the guys from the GSL. It’s going to be a blast to play with them and the guys from the Tri-Cities. What’s cool is we’ll be practicing at CV all week and then I get to play where I’m going to play for the next five years. It couldn’t be better.”
Coming out of high school, Schmidt had options. Washington State University and Central Washington also offered preferred walk-on opportunities.
“I sat down with my parents and I had a good feeling about EWU,” Schmidt said. “I liked the coaches and the guys (the players) were great.”
The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Schmidt was a three-year starter at left guard for CV, and a two-way starter at defensive tackle his senior season. He was a second-team all-Greater Spokane League pick as a sophomore and two-time first-team pick the last two years.
“If everything lines up I’d like to get a scholarship in a year, probably two years,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said EWU wants to convert him into a center.
He’s considered to be on the short side for NCAA Division I. Had he been another 2 inches taller, he probably could have written his ticket to the school of his choice.
“They want me to put on between 40 and 50 pounds and still be able to move,” Schmidt said.
Giampietri will miss Schmidt.
“He had the ability to run over people early as a sophomore,” Giampietri said. “He pulls well and was a good drive blocker. He tricked some people. He’s one of the best linemen to come through here.”
Schmidt showed why in CV’s playoff game at Chiawana. The Bears moved Schmidt to tight end and moved the tight end to the left side of the line. It was a wrinkle CV hadn’t shown all year.
It worked well as the Bears gained more than 100 yards using the same play.
“It takes a real dominant tight end to run the play and Branson blew their defensive end off the ball,” Giampietri said.
The defenses and offenses will be limited to certain plays and formations. “The emphasis is to allow the offenses to be successful,” said Giampietri, who is serving as the game’s director. One rule allows a team that scores and trails by nine or more points to get the ball back. … Cornerback Cody Sorensen of Ferris, who is headed to Idaho State University, has been added to the East roster, replacing Paul Miller of Mead. Miller suffered a baseball-related injury that required 11 stitches. Other GSL athletes scheduled to play are Kellen Clute (Mt. Spokane), Jordan Tonani (Ferris), Kevin Stanley (CV), Grant Livingston (Ferris) and Joe Dahl (University). Ferris’ Jim Sharkey is the head coach. … Spokane Valley’s Gary Branson, along with the help of other businessmen, has purchased several tickets to allow Grid Kid and Pop Warner players to attend the game free if they wear their jersey top. … Giampietri said that anyone with a military ID is invited to the game free. … Admission is $7 and kids younger than 7 are free.