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Originally published December 1, 2009 at 7:02 PM | Page modified December 1, 2009 at 10:01 PM

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Cougars' Eric Block forced to give up football

WSU safety from Bellevue High hadn't played since Sept. 26 game against USC because of ulcerative colitis, a disease of the large intestine.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Eric Block, the former Bellevue High quarterback who was part of two state-championship teams with the Wolverines, has decided to give up football at Washington State after a battle with ulcerative colitis, a disease of the large intestine.

"It's hard to take, but we just want him to be healthy," said his father, Scott Block. "When he's not playing football, he seems to be OK."

The younger Block, a safety who just finished his sophomore season at WSU, had bouts of the illness before this year but was able to manage it through fall camp.

Scott Block said the disease began flaring up again before the SMU game Sept. 19, and by the next week, playing special teams at USC, his son "was in pain the whole time." Eric was then sidelined the rest of the season.

"I absolutely love the kid," said WSU coach Paul Wulff. "But a normal life moving forward is far too important than trying to battle the symptoms that flare up due to football."

In a season-ending conference call, Wulff said offensive tackle Kevin Freitag of Kennedy High, who missed the season with a serious toe injury, remains a "big question mark" to return.

Wulff said offensive lineman Joe Eppele of Vancouver, B.C., indicated he would not return in 2010 and likely would take a shot at the Canadian Football League draft.

On the topic of staff stability, Wulff wasn't definitive, saying, "I'm satisfied [with its performance] but at the same time, we're still getting all our ducks in a row. I've got a lot of things to get accomplished in the next week or two before I would make any official change or anything of that nature."

Wulff said he believes the Cougars, if completely healthy, could compete for a bowl game in 2010.

Bud Withers: bwithers@seattletimes.com

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