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Q&A: Eastern Washington safety, Spokane product Cole Karstetter big part of Eagles’ defense

Add Eastern Washington safety Cole Karstetter to the growing list of Eagles with Idaho ties.

When fourth-ranked EWU (5-2, 3-1 Big Sky) plays host to the Vandals today in Cheney for first time since 1994, Karstetter will be facing his uncle Scott Dahlquist’s old squad.

Dahlquist was a trusty Idaho tight end in the late 1980s and early ’90s, when the Eagles and Vandals were building a Big Sky Conference rivalry that was discontinued for 22 years.

Dahlquist’s son and Karstetter’s cousin, Max Dahlquist, a freshman wide receiver for Idaho, may see it blossom in the future.

Karstetter’s older brother, Kurt, played linebacker at Idaho State, but EWU-Idaho, programs separated by 77 miles, has a different feel, he said.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how it all turns over on the field, and how everyone reacts to that environment,” Karstetter said of Saturday’s noon game with Idaho. “It’s sort of a rivalry renewed. But (the players) weren’t even born when Idaho and EWU (last shared a conference). So we really don’t have any idea of what they’re all about.”

Karstetter has been a versatile commodity for a EWU defense that’s given up just 18.2 points against conference foes this season. From his rover position in the Eagles’ 4-2 scheme, he can play up in the box for run support or hang back and drop into pass coverage.

The Spokesman-Review: What is it about this year’s defense to where things are clicking so well? EWU hasn’t been known for its staunch defense, but it seems like this senior-laden group has something pretty special.

Cole Karstetter: The chemistry between the guys is good this year. The communication has been on another level, and we trust that everyone is going to do their jobs.

S-R: But is there anything in particular about this defense that’s jumps out at you? Some defenses are very athletic, others very physical, crisp, etc. What’s this defense?

CK: I’d say we’re a fairly athletic defense. … We have some big monsters up front like like Jay-Tee (Tiuli) and (Dylan Ledbetter), then we have athletic defensive ends. Linebackers Kurt (Calhoun) and Ketner (Kupp) fly around around. The secondary is athletic and experienced. It’s a good group.

S-R: What like you like to do when you’re not knocking down ballcarriers?

CK: I like to water ski, hunt and fish. Stuff like that. On our bye week last weekend I went hunting down in Dayton with some family.

S-R: You bring back a trophy-worthy buck?

CK: No, we didn’t get anything. Maybe next time.

S-R: Your father (former EWU basketball player Jerry Karstetter) is 6-foot-6. Your older brother, Jared Karstetter, a former WSU wide receiver, is 6-4. Kurt is about 6-foot-2, and yet you’re listed at 5-11?

CK: (Laughs) Yeah, it’s like we just kept getting a couple inches shorter down the line. (My brothers) were all a little bigger than me, so I had to scrap being the smaller one. It toughened me up.

S-R: A fifth-year senior, you’ve been a part of a pretty successful stretch here at EWU, which is essentially your hometown school and where both of your parents studied. How has it felt to be part of that?

CK: It’s been great. There’s a tradition here that other schools (that recruited me) didn’t really have when I was making my college decision. And it’s close to home, family can watch me play.

S-R: What schools recruited you?

CK: I went down to Idaho for junior day, got a preferred walk on at Washington State, a full-ride offer to Idaho State and a partial (scholarship offer) to go to EWU.

S-R: From a defensive standpoint, what are you seeing from this Idaho team? They haven’t put up a ton of points, but they seem to have some capable threats.

CK: They have a good run-pass balance. I think the running backs are solid, and they have a couple guys back that all contribute at QB. (Idaho QB Mason Petrino) likes to extend plays a lot, a pretty quick kid. He’ll pull the ball and run, too, so we’ll have to account for him as a running quarterback, which makes a difference in our coverage. And they have some athletic, capable guys at receiver, too. We’re going to have to be ready.

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