Scorebook Live Washington spoke to a handful of Washington high school football coaches to gauge their thoughts on the Gridiron Classic moving away from the Tacoma Dome, including first-year Eastside Catholic head coach Dominic Daste.
The Crusaders are coming off their third 3A state championship in eight seasons as Daste takes the reins. Daste, a former University of Washington offensive lineman, was an assistant coach at UW, Montana and UNLV before joining the high school ranks in 2015 as an assistant at Eastside Catholic.
Coaches react to Gridiron Classic news:
(Editor’s note: some answers have been edited for space.)
Dominic Daste, Eastside Catholic football coach
Playoff record: Two state titles as a coordinator (2015, 2018)
What was your reaction to the news?
Dominic Daste: I had heard some rumblings that the fan experience wasn’t great because of the new way the Tacoma Dome was situated. Heard some of our fans and some families, it was just tough to see. I was on the field so I was a little preoccupied, but I had heard some people weren’t happy, but I didn’t know to what extent the WIAA would take that into consideration if at all, or whatever reasons they decided to move locations.
Has it been a story you were following?
Daste: For me at the time I had a little bit bigger fish to fry. I had been a part of that game there as an assistant, which has been great, but to me right now it seems so far-fetched to be there and experience that, we’ll just be happy to be there and wherever it is we’ll be happy to play in it.
Has the weather been a factor in postseason games for you in the past, and what do you think about the prospect of an outdoor game in early December?
Daste: If you were to have asked me 10 years ago I don’t think it would have mattered, but I’m getting old and brittle, so I do not enjoy the cold weather anymore. I used to coach at the University of Montana and it didn’t faze me one bit. But it is what it is. I think it’s all part of football, and it’s part of coaching regardless of where you’re playing at what the conditions are, it’s your job to manage those conditions and prepare your team to play whether it’s snow, wind, water, whatever, you’ve got to build a game plan accordingly. Hopefully we’re building our team to be balanced and can run the ball effectively if we have to. If you looked at us last year, you would have thought the game was played in a snow storm, we ran the ball quite a bit in the state championship game in the Tacoma Dome. When we go into a game we want to put together our best opportunity for winning regardless of what the conditions are, taking into account that it’s not the end-all.
With the WIAA leaning toward a multi-site outdoor model, is there anywhere in particular — stadium or region — you would like to see the game played?
Daste: I think it would be cool to play in Husky Stadium. I think our kids would enjoy it. (Some have said) the Tacoma Dome has a special feel to it, and it does. I think a place like Husky Stadium or the Seahawks stadium that has meaning behind it, some history and there’s obviously some decent players who have played there, I think that would be cool for the kids participating in the game, to have it somewhere in a venue like that. But I understand the dollars and cents behind things and so it will figure itself out I’m sure and they’ll try to make it the best they can.
Andy Buhler is a reporter for Scorebook Live Washington. To hear him every week on the Scorebook Live Today podcast, subscribe here. Follow him on Twitter @AndyBuhler and reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.