WALLA WALLA — Morgan Maddess is a mild-mannered young man who smiles often.
He’s also a whirling dervish who whacks opposing ball carriers and quarterbacks with a fist-pumping relish.
The change takes place between the locker room and the football field.
Between the two, he’s self-effacing and smiling, with ample praise for his Blue Devil teammates, until he reaches the gridiron.
Then, between the sidelines a gleam appears in his eyes and he looks for someone to thump.
As hard as he can.
And as a compact 5-foot-11, 185-pound linebacker, that’s plenty hard, even for the Big Nine Conference where ball carriers and quarterbacks match him pound-for-pound.
"Morgan has been a key component of our defense all year long," Wa-Hi coach Marc Yonts said. "He is a perfect fit at middle linebacker.
"He’s tough. He can run. He can hit. And he’s disciplined," Yonts said. "He has a great attitude every day, and he truly loves playing football.
"He makes everybody around him better because of the way he plays the game," Yonts added.
Last week, Maddess played a key role in the Blue Devils’ second-half defensive effort that shut out Richland in the come-from-behind 35-21 Blue Devil victory.
"It was a lot of fun coming back to beat Richland," Maddess said softly. "The first half wasn’t so much fun, but the second half was a blast."
Maddess was born in Walla Walla at St. Mary’s Medical Center.
He attended Edison Elementary and Pioneer Middle schools before Wa-Hi.
"I’ve played football, baseball and basketball every year so far," he said.
And so far he remains undecided about what he will do after graduation.
"I’m still trying to figure out what fits me best," he said. "I’m thinking about going into the military."
If he does that, he will probably chose the U.S. Marine Corps, he said.
"I just don’t know yet," he said. "I’ve been thinking about it since middle school."
As usual, with a full sports schedule, Maddess doesn’t have much spare time.
And he has a job.
"In my spare time I work," he said. "I cater at Whitman College for Bon Appetit.
"And then I just hang out," Maddess added.
He does, however, make some time to enjoy music and movies.
He spreads his taste in music over a broad area that he stores on his IPod.
"I listen to all sorts of music," Maddes said in his mild-manered mode. "I like Tom Petty, some Country Music and some Rock."
Maddess becomes a bit more selective, even hard-nosed, in his taste for movies.
"I really like action movies, like ‘Zombieland,’ movies like that," he said with his eyes lighting up. "They have great (special) effects.
Programs list ‘Zombieland’ as a Comedy/Horror movie directed by Ruben Fleischer with a cast that includes Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin.
One ad for the movie goes like this: "Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) has made a habit of running from what scares him. Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) doesn’t have fears. If he did, he’d kick their (rear ends). In a world overrun by zombies, these two are perfectly evolved survivors. But now, they’re about to stare down the most terrifying prospect of all: each other."
It’s kind of like the mild-mannered young man meets the Whirling Dervish.
Maddess also enjoys the new James Bond, Daniel Craig.
"I haven’t seen the newest James Bond movie (‘Quantum of Solace’). I’ve been meaning to watch it, but I haven’t had a chance," he said.
"I saw the one before this latest one (‘Casino Royale’), and I like that. It was good," Maddess said.
Morgan is the son of Theresa Maddess, and he has one brother and two sisters.
"My older sister Robin is working with the school district in Seattle. My sister Jen (Jennifer) is at Vet Tech School in Bellingham," Maddess said. "My brother Jeremy is going to WWCC in the Fire Safety Program."
As the Blue Devils move into postseason play, Maddess remains primarily focused on football.
"This year has been a lot of fun so far, and I hope it keeps rolling," he said. "As usual, we’re just going to take it one game at a time against Moses Lake.
"I’m excited," he said. "We know they have a good team.
"We went up there last year and beat them, so I hope we can hold our own." Maddess said. "We’ve had a pretty good rivalry with Moses.
"I’d like to win," he said.
He added that last with a mild voice, but he had that gleam in is eye.
Wa-Hi vs. Moses Lake
WALLA WALLA — Wa-Hi, after an exciting come-from-behind victory over Richland last week, takes on a look-alike Moses Lake team in a Big Nine Conference Divisional Crossover game at Borleske Stadium Friday night.
Trailing 21-7 in the fourth quarter against the Bombers, Wa-Hi roared back for a 35-21 victory.
"What a great win and a great finish," Wa-Hi coach Marc Yonts said. "We obviously got ourselves in a few holes in the first half (with four turnovers).
"The kids really stepped up the second half," he continued. "We started hanging onto the football to sustain some drives.
"We played some great defense," he said. "And we were able to turn away a good Richland team.
"Coming back like that was really, really special," he said. "Not only did we get close and tie it up with some time left, but we were able to turn them away and create some turnovers of our own (two) and go score."
Now its playoff time against another long-time rival, if not a long-time nemesis.
"Moses Lake is real similar to us in a lot of ways," Yonts said. "You go through the whole thing statistically: They’re third in their league (4-2, 5-3). We’re third in our league (5-2, 5-3). We’re up in the top two or three in offense (second, 2,801 yards, 250 points). So are they (third, 2,731 yards, 225 points).
And its the same on defense, the whole thing, points allowed and points scored."
On defense, Wa-Hi ranks third, allowing 1,743 yards and 136 points while the Chiefs rank second, allowing 1,713 yards and 148 points.
"And they’re a big-play offense," Yonts said. "They’re quarterback throws it around real well. He runs well. He runs real well. He throws extremely well.
"They have some great receivers who are making big plays for them," he added.
The Chiefs’ quarterback, Dylan Signorelli, has passed for 1,581 yards and 17 touchdowns with five interceptions.
The leading Chiefs’ receivers are Jordan Wilks (30 catches for 449 yards and eight touchdowns) and Jimmy Molina (30-323-3).
Wa-Hi quarterback Michael Weisner has passed for 1,289 yards and 16 TDs with five interceptions.
Gary Winston now leads Wa-Hi receivers with 24 catches for 399 yards and nine TDs.
Wa-Hi’s receiver/defensive back Colton Arias may return this week after a leg injury. He has 20 catches for 273 yards and four TDs.
Wa-Hi holds an edge at moving the ball on the ground, 1,460 yards to 1,119 yards.
Austin Schilling leads Blue Devil ball carriers with 138 rushes for 781 yards and seven touchdowns.
Brandon Lublin leads the Chiefs with 103 carries for 544 yards and five TDs.
"Their defense is designed to stop the big play, and they’re doing it," Yonts said. "They present their share of challenges.
"Good quarterbacks have been a challenge for us," Yonts said. "We need to shore up our pass defense for sure and to create some problems for that guy.
"Hopefully we’ll have Arias back," he said. "He’s out jogging around and practicing. We hope he will be able to go full speed and sprint a little bit. This would be a good time to have him back."