Nov. 16, 2006
SEATTLE (AP) -- Carl Bonnell sat in the front row, clad in crimson and gray, screaming himself hoarse at the opponent in purple and gold.
This was Martin Stadium in 2002, when Bonnell was a freshman with a promising future as a quarterback for Washington State.
Four years later, Bonnell will be back in Martin Stadium on Saturday, this time in Washington purple, about to take the brunt of disdain from the Cougar faithful.
"There's a lot of extra motivation. You know the players there, you know the atmosphere, you've been in the front row of Martin Stadium watching the Apple Cup," said Bonnell, who attended WSU only briefly before transferring to Washington. "Just having the opportunity to go out there and finish the season off on the right foot is just a huge opportunity."
Despite a thigh bruise, sprained shoulder and sore neck, Bonnell is expected to start at quarterback when the Huskies travel to Pullman. It won't be Bonnell's first time back in Martin Stadium: He was in a Huskies uniform and on the sidelines in 2004 when Washington State won 28-25.
This time promises to be a new experience.
"It'll be a different feeling," Bonnell said of being in the middle of the field before Cougars fans. "I'll probably get away from some of the screaming from the fans. I'm expecting a little bit of ribbing."
Felix Sweetman would love any ribbing.
The fifth-year, walk-on senior is in line to be Washington's backup on Saturday, and if history is a guide, he might well find himself on the field.
In three of his four starts, Bonnell has suffered some type of injury, the latest a thigh bruise suffered in the first quarter of last Saturday's loss to Stanford. The usual backup, Johnny DuRocher, took over, but suffered a concussion. His availability against Washington State is uncertain.
When DuRocher was knocked out, Sweetman was a matter of seconds from taking the field. Sweetman was given a play number and was about to call the formation when Bonnell limped back onto the field.
"I was pretty excited and a little disappointed. It was very mixed emotions," Sweetman said. "I've wanted to play for the Huskies my entire life."
Sweetman bypassed the chance to have his schooling paid for and perhaps be a starter at Division II Central Washington. Instead, he chose to pay his way through Washington and spend his time on the scout team getting beat up by the No. 1 defense.
Economically, it might not have been the smartest decision. But Sweetman remembers watching games in Husky Stadium as a youth, sitting above Tunnel 8 in the west end of the stadium's lower bowl. Playing at Washington was a dream he wasn't about to let slip away.
And now it's his last game, with the possibility of getting on the field.
"There would be no better way ... to end not just playing for the Huskies, but just end my football career," Sweetman said. "I'm realistic: This is the end for me. I'm done playing football after this. To end it on a note like this would be amazing for me and my family."
Many outsiders believe Saturday is the end for Bonnell, too, despite the fact he still has a year of eligibility. Waiting on the sidelines is highly touted freshman Jake Locker, who will use his redshirt and not play this season. Most fans believe Bonnell is simply a placeholder until Locker is ready for the 2007 season opener at Syracuse, and that Bonnell will return to being a backup.
Bonnell wouldn't speculate on next year, but if Saturday is his final start, he wants to snap Washington's six-game losing streak and head into the offseason on a positive note.
"The Apple Cup is a huge game. This is a game people will be talking about the next 20 years, whichever way it goes," Bonnell said. "The rest of your life you're going to live with what happens."