Bombers will serve as Wa-Hi’s ‘measuring stick’ in gridiron meeting

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WALLA WALLA — Last Friday’s 27-24 overtime loss in Moses Lake left Wa-Hi football coach Eric Hisaw both complimentary and dismayed.

Hisaw is hopeful that shortcomings will be few and far between this Friday when the Blue Devils travel to 1-0 Richland for a 7 p.m. contest at Fran Rish Stadium.

“We made a lot of plays and did so many things well,” Hisaw said of the Moses Lake game. “But it seems like there are three or four plays that we don’t make that kill us. Getting close is great, but getting close is not good enough.

“We did not handle the stress of the game well,” Hisaw said. “That’s the part that was disappointing. We didn’t make enough plays.”

One of the many bright spots highlighted by Hisaw this week was the play of his team’s offense.

“I was pleased with Zach Zehner,” Hisaw said of his quarterback who threw for 280 yards and three touchdowns. “He showed a lot of composure. He made good plays when we needed them.”

Receivers Mitchell Huffman and Darnell Handcox caught eight passes each, while Reid Magnaghi added four receptions and Gerardo Gomez chipped in with three.

“Our receiving corps made some plays,” Hisaw said. “They made Zach look good, but that is what they’re supposed to do.”

Hisaw also praised his trenchmen on offense and special teams.

“Our offensive line played well for the first game,” Hisaw said. “Moses Lake brought pressure, but our kids did well protecting Zach all night long.”

“We covered punts and kicks very well,” Hisaw said. “We communicated better on the field.”

The Blue Devils battled the entire game, Hisaw said, and appeared to have the game won when Willie Hayes rushed across the goal line from the 3 in overtime.

But the touchdown was nullified by a holding penalty. After being flagged for illegal procedure, the Blue Devils’ chances for victory were dashed by an interception.

Hisaw gave props to his assistant coaches, too.

“We’ve got fighters. A couple of them are warriors,” Hisaw said. “They always believed, and that’s a huge deal. In overtime, we did throw the knockout punch. That was a tough call that went against us.

“Our staff did a super job,” Hisaw said. “They made adjustment after adjustment — getting the kids understanding what they had to do.”

Richland opened its season at home last Friday with a 27-7 victory over Southridge.

A quartet of Bomber running backs gained at least 48 yards rushing; Nathan Galat led the way with 70 yards on 10 totes.

Quarterback Zach Whitby completed 14-of-21 passes for 177 yards.

His favorite target, Payton Radliff, caught five throws for 89 yards including a 46-yard touchdown toss in the first quarter.

“They do a lot of great things,” Hisaw said. “They have an offense by committee. They move it around a lot. They have good receivers and their front seven is good. They’re very efficient.

“Defensively, they go with a 4-2 or a cover two,” Hisaw said. “Their backers are active and they tackle well in the open field. They are disciplined and don’t make a lot of mistakes.”

As for Friday’s game, “It’s going to be a dandy,” Hisaw said. “It should be a great football game. We’ll be ready to play. We’ll play very well.

“This game will be a good measuring stick for us.”

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