WALLA WALLA - Wa-Hi's football team gets its last shot at cracking into the Big Nine's win column this Friday when the Blue Devils welcome Eisenhower for what could be the last home game for the senior class.
Both Wa-Hi (0-5, 1-6) and Ike (1-4, 4-4) are coming off losses the preceding week to leave the schools battling for sixth place in the Big Nine, which would secure them a Week 10 crossover matchup.
"It's pretty simple," said Wa-Hi head coach Mike Gobel. "If we win then we play on. If we lose, well, then our AD has to pull some strings in a hurry because we plan on playing next week too."
Ike is led by senior running back Trevon Harris (5 foot, 10 inches, 185 pounds), who currently leads the Big Nine with 1,340 rushing yards on 177 carries, while piling up 13 touchdowns in the league's second-highest rated offense.
"He's a heck of a back," Gobel said. "We know they're going to probably come out and try to establish him, and then use play action for the big plays so we have to limit him from the start, but that's not going to be too easy because they have a heck of a line with two all-league guys up there."
Wa-Hi sophomore offensive and defensive lineman Logan Reardon (6-2, 215) agrees that the battle in the trenches will probably decide who picks up the win.
"I thought we saw some real progress on both side of the ball on the line against Moses Lake," Reardon said. "We're doing much better as the season goes on, but we know Ike is going to challenge us big time."
Ike was forced to turn to junior quarterback Jason Easter (6-170) to take the reins after an injury against Davis ended the season for first-stringer Kolney Cassel (sophomore, 6-1, 175). A similar situation happened to Wa-Hi last week when an injury to starter Matt Watson (senior, 6-1, 205) led to Jake Robertson (senior, 6-6, 207) taking over under center.
"Jake did a really good job," Gobel said. "He stepped in and made plays for us. We had a lot of great individual performances to build off of. Moe Handcox was impressive."
Handcox's 33 grabs pitched the 5-11, 160 junior to the top the list of Big Nine receivers, while Ike is led by 6-4, 215-lb. senior Cody Murphy's 28 snags for 365 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
"I think this team will be a good test for us," said junior wide receiver and safety Josh Eggers. "They fit into what we've been working on, which is limiting the big play, We know they can do, and we have to limit our mistakes to get this win for our home fans."
Ike stands at fourth in the Big Nine, with 2,436 yards surrendered, but it has has given up a league-high 239 points, which could allow Wa-Hi to build on last week's three-touchdown performance.
"We're getting closer," Gobel said. "That's what our goal was all year, and we keep building. We want this win more than probably any other because we want to know for sure that we have another game."