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Originally published Saturday, October 11, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Battle in Seattle | Central quarterback attracts NFL interest

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.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Battle in Seattle

What: Central Washington vs. Western Washington, NCAA Division II football game.

Where: Qwest Field

When: Today, 6 p.m.

Tickets: $35, $25 and $15.

Western vs. Central

Location

WWU: Bellingham (enrollment 13,300); CWU: Ellensburg (enrollment 8,500)

Unusual academic programs

WWU: Canadian studies; CWU: Global wine studies

Famous alumni

WWU: Ralph Munro, five-term Washington secretary of state; Robert Angel, inventor of Pictionary; William Dietrich, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for Seattle Times who is author of 10 books.

CWU: Jon Kitna, NFL quarterback; Ron Sims, King County executive; Keith Gilbertson, former football coach at Idaho, California and Washington presently on Seahawks staff.

Unusual things

WWU: Vehicle Research Institute (VRI) explores alternative automotive energy fuel and has a car that runs on methane gas from cow manure. ... Western is ranked No. 1 in Pacific Northwest by U.S. News & World Report among master's-degree granting institutions (those who don't offer doctorates) and is No. 3 in the entire West. ... A student club is Western Students Against Zombies, and it conducts drills to prepare against zombie invasions. ... The popular band "Death Cab for Cutie" formed on the WWU campus.

CWU: The school has a rodeo club. ... Chimpanzee and Human Communications Institute is on campus. Washoe, believed to be the first nonhuman to acquire sign language from humans, died last October at age 42. The chimp could use about 250 distinctive American Sign Language signs. ... Kamola Hall is said to be haunted by the friendly ghost of a former woman student, Lola, who committed suicide, when she found out that her fiancé had been killed early in World War I.

National championships

WWU: NCAA Division II Women's Rowing, 2005-08; NAIA softball, 1998.

CWU: NAIA Division II football, 1995; NAIA wrestling 1971, 1974; NAIA swimming and diving, men's, 1984, 1986, 1987, women's, 1986.

Craig Smith

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.

"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.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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