Thursday, November 3, 2011
WALLA WALLA - Heading into play a week ago, both the Wa-Hi and Rogers football teams had at least one thing in common.
Neither had won a game.
But that changed when the Pirates downed Greater Spokane League rival Shadle Park, 30-27.
As for the Blue Devils, their 2011 season remained winless after a 53-3 loss at Eisenhower.
The teams meet for their regular-season finale Friday at 6 p.m. at Gonzaga Prep High School in Spokane.
"We talked all week about winning a game where nothing has to give," Wa-Hi coach Eric Hisaw said. "That's going to be the expectation. We want the kids to earn every yard they get."
The head Blue Devil said last Friday's loss in Yakima marked the first time all season that Wa-Hi had seriously lacked emotion and expectations.
"It was the first time all year that the losses took their toll on us," Hisaw said. "I was not happy with that."
Though the Blue Devils welcomed back several athletes from injury this week, Friday's contest will be the second in succession in which Wa-Hi will be without receivers and backfield defenders Moe and Darnell Handcox. Moe Handcox is nursing a right-elbow injury while Darnell Handcox tends to an injured neck.
"I feel bad for him," Hisaw said of Moe Handcox. "Darnell has had a good year. He's done a fantastic job. He's been a super player for us this year."
Friday's game will showcase both the Big Nine Conference's and GSL's leading rushers. Wa-Hi's Jonah Hoe has rushed for 1,247 yards and the Pirates' Luke Rogers has gained 1,192 yards on the ground.
Anthony Hampton is another back that could give the Blue Devils fits. He has 599 yards rushing thus far.
The Pirates do not rely as much on the pass. Quarterback Matt Durant has throw for 489 yards and three touchdowns. He has been picked off eight times.
Durant's top receiver is Josh Whitaker, who has caught 14 passes for 273 yards.
"They run hard," Hisaw said. "They don't throw it as well, but when they do, they'll hurt you. They make big plays to get themselves out of holes.
"On defense, they bring a lot of people," Hisaw said. "It's feast or famine."
Wide receiver and outside linebacker Kyle Jameson, quick guard and defensive tackle Simon Quackenbush, and wide receiver and cornerback Blake Rowley are among 16 Blue Devil seniors that will be on the sideline for the last time on Friday night.
"It's a big deal," Hisaw said. "The sense of urgency is paramount. We've told them, ‘Winning would be a tribute to the legacy you leave behind.'"
"It hit me more last week," Jameson said. "A win would give (us) a highlight to end on. It would be a great memory to hold onto forever.
"There are lots of other (school) clubs and sports, but there's nothing like playing football," Jameson said. "It's unique."
"One of the hardest parts is knowing you won't be able to go out there and hit with these guys again," Quackenbush said. "None of us are ready for it to end. We're cherishing every minute, every second, and having a good time."
"Football is one of the funnest things I've done in my life," Rowley said. "This is not the kind of year we wanted, but we're better than we were at the beginning of the year. We have a chance to have a good end (to the season). We're looking forward to it."