Thursday, October 17, 2013
WALLA WALLA — Positive results achieved over the last four weeks by the Walla Walla High School football team have turned the Blue Devils into a squad oozing with confidence, according to coach Eric Hisaw.
Davis, Hanford, Kennewick and Pasco managed a combined 25 points in their encounters with Wa-Hi. The Lions and Bulldogs suffered their defeats by shutout.
The Blue Devils, who stand 3-1 in the Mid-Columbia Conference and 4-2 overall, will seek their fifth straight win Friday night when they travel to Lampson Stadium in Kennewick to oppose league rival Southridge (2-2 MCC, 4-2 overall).
“It’s a different group that is walking around compared to Aug. 20 (the first official day of practice),” Hisaw said. “They have a belief, a look in their eye, and an expectation of what they expect from each other.”
Wa-Hi ends its regular season with a road test against Kamiakin next Friday and a Nov. 1 clash with league-leading Chiawana at Borleske Stadium.
Despite the daunting tasks the final three games present, Hisaw thinks his team is capable of rising to the challenges.
“They think they can play with anybody,” Hisaw said. “It’s a great place to be. For so long, the attitude was, ‘If we play well, we hope we can win.’ Now the thought of losing doesn’t even enter their minds.”
Wa-Hi has not allowed a point in 11 quarters. It gained 403 yards in last Friday’s 48-0 blanking of Pasco.
“We’ve continued to improve on defense and are starting to find a rhythm on offense,” Hisaw said.
The Blue Devil coach noted intangibles that have contributed to his team’s success over the past month.
“The kids have been better on first down and third down,” Hisaw said. “We’ve played with better field position. We’re not making mistakes and are playing at a consistently high level.”
Wa-Hi ranks fifth in the MCC this week in offense and is second defensively. Quarterback Zach Zehner is fourth in the conference with 929 passing yards. Running back Noah Porter’s 498 yards rushing is the league’s fourth best mark.
Receivers Mitchell Huffman and Darnell Handcox are third and fourth in the Mid-Columbia ranks with 24 and 23 receptions, respectively.
Handcox lead the MCC with five interceptions while teammate Trever Coronado is tied for fourth with three.
Southridge, No. 4 in the league in offense and fifth in defense, possesses one of the Mid-Columbia’s top running backs. Kadin Diaz is second in touchdowns (10) and points scored (60), and third in both rushing (702 yards) and all-purpose yards (843).
Suns’ quarterback Jair Ealy-Thomas has thrown for 887 yards this season.
“They play hard,” Hisaw said. “They are relentless on both sides of the ball. They have the most physical running back in the league. On defense, they’ll throw five or six fronts at you, and run a lot of different schemes. Their front seven is the strength of their defense.
“They’ll be difficult to beat,” Hisaw said. “Their program knows how to win. They expect to do great things.
“It should be a great matchup — two clubs that are outstanding on defense,” Hisaw said. “The team that executes on offense for four quarters will win the game. We need to make the easy plays that move the chains and keep drives alive.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.