WALLA WALLA - Wa-Hi's football team gets a week to regroup before its final three Big Nine contests following one of its most difficult games of the season, a 51-7 loss to Davis Friday.
The Blue Devils suffered their third straight league defeat Friday, again searching for the answers to their recent defensive woes that have put a return to the playoffs in peril.
"We're using this week to get our kids healthy," said Wa-Hi head coach Mike Gobel. "(Running back and defensive back) Miguel Torres got to play a junior varsity game on Monday so we're looking forward to working him back in because he's been out a while, and just getting our kids ready to play football. Right now we aren't focusing on who we're playing next. We don't have to worry about this Friday night. We just have to worry about us."
Wa-Hi now ranks last in the Big Nine defense, allowing 2,020 yards in five games - averaging out to more than seven yards per play.
The offense, which was among the best in the league through three weeks, has sputtered in its last two games, dropping to sixth in the Big Nine.
"It's just about limiting mistakes," Gobel said. "It all goes back to what we have been preaching, which is executing and getting better every day."
Moe Handcox remains the league's top receiver with 24 catches and 426 yards, but only four of those snags have come in Wa-Hi's last two contests as Chiawana and Davis keyed in on the Blue Devils' top offensive weapon.
Despite Wa-Hi's recent offensive woes, quarterback Matt Watson remains third in the Big Nine in total offense, and he maintained his spot as the top punter in the conference.
"For us, what it comes down to is listening to our coaches and doing what we're told," said Wa-Hi senior wide receiver and defensive back Colton Hill. "All we can do is play as hard as we are capable of, and every week we know we can find a way to play harder and put more effort out on the field."
Breaking into the win column looks like it may again prove to be a challenging task for the Blue Devils with a trip to 4-1 Richland on the slate after their bye week, but the opportunity to get healthy and regroup serves as a major plus for Wa-Hi.
"It's always a positive to have the time to step back and look at your mistakes," Gobel said. "We need to avoid getting put in the spot we were in during the first half last week, and this week gives us a chance to look at our student athletes a little more closely and evaluate if each one is capable of achieving what we ask them to do."
Repeating last season's four league victories may no longer be possible for Wa-Hi, but a second half resurgence is far from out of the question.
"You know, last week we played inspired ball after the half, and it wasn't like we went into halftime and gave our guys some big pep talk," Gobel said. "We just had a heart-to-heart with them, and they responded. If we get that effort from the start then we know we'll be in better shape in our next game."
Big Nine Conference
Team League Overall
Kamiakin 3-0 5-0
Eastmont 3-0 3-2
Southridge 2-1 2-3
Kennewick 1-2 3-2
Sunnyside 1-2 2-3
Hanford 1-2 1-4
Pasco 1-2 1-4
West Valley 0-3 1-4
Chiawana 3-0 5-0
Davis 2-1 4-1
Wenatchee 2-1 4-1
Richland 1-1 4-1
Eisenhower 1-1 4-1
Walla Walla 0-3 1-4
Moses Lake 0-2 1-4
Oct. 1 Games
Davis 51, Walla Walla 7
Chiawana 17, Richland 7
Eisenhower 21 Wenatchee 20
Moses Lake 33, Hermiston 14
Kamiakin 37, West Valley 6
Eastmont 38, Pasco 14
Kennewick 34, Sunnyside 7
Southridge 24, Hanford 9
Hanford at Kennewick, 7:30 p.m.
Wenatchee at Richland, 7:30 p.m.
Davis at Eisenhower, 7:30 p.m.
Chiawana at Moses Lake, 7:30 p.m.
Sunnyside at Pasco, 7:30 p.m.
Kamiakin at Southridge, 7:30 p.m.
Eastmont at West Valley, 7:30 p.m.