Blue Devils face 'good measuring stick'

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WALLA WALLA — Wa-Hi probably couldn’t ask for a better opponent to open the 2012 season against.

The Blue Devils face Moses Lake (2-8 in 2011) tonight at 7 at Borleske Stadium in a rematch of a 2011 game where both squads entered the game winless.

Columbia Basin Big Nine leading rusher Jonah Hoe rushed for 239 yards on 26 carries in that contest, but the Blue Devils weren’t able to overcome a 139-yard rushing and 133-yard passing performance from Chiefs quarterback Justin Simmons in a 22-12 loss.

Both competitors are back for another go-around as seniors.

“I like playing them the first game of the year,” Hisaw said of the Chiefs. “They’re always physical, they’re going to hit you in the mouth and the coaches always do a super job coaching physicality, but the kids should have some confidence going into it because it was a close game.”

Moses Lake is a veteran squad, with 22 seniors listed on its roster, but Wa-Hi should have an advantage getting Moses Lake at home, as the Chiefs were winless on the road last season.

“It’s real nice to be at home,” Hisaw said. “I hope people leave the fairgrounds empty and come there and watch at 7 p.m. Nothing against the Fair, but it would be great to have the community there to watch an excited, focused Blue Devils team.”

Although Simmons proved more of a threat on the ground than Wa-Hi quarterback Dakota Turner last season, neither quarterback put up great numbers for the year. Both hovered around 1,000 yards of passing and completed just more than 40 percent of their attempts.

“They’re like us,” Hisaw said of the Chiefs. “They lost a few key players from last year and it’s not like we’re starting off (against) the defending state champions with 20-to-23 guys coming back from last year.”

The Blue Devils and Chiefs were evenly matched on defense last year as well, head-to-head results not withstanding, as Moses Lake and Wa-Hi each allowed more than 3,800 yards for the season to rank fifth and sixth in the CBBN, respectively. As such, tonight’s game should prove a good barometer of what progress Wa-Hi has made this offseason.

“They’ve (Moses Lake) got some good skill kids,” Hisaw said. “They’re unorthodox on defense and they’re going to be physical and their kids are going to be fired up.

“I’m looking forward to getting on the field and playing someone in a different colored jersey,” Hisaw said. “I’m also excited because it’s going to be a good measuring stick — they’re a good test.”

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