PREP FOOTBALL — Blue Devils focus on big-play Pirates

Wa-Hi faces a revamped Davis squad that already has a Big Nine victory this season after going winless last year.


WALLA WALLA - Wa-Hi's football team will look again to score its first victory of the Big Nine season Friday, tackling Davis on the road in a game that's critical for the Blue Devils' playoff chances.

After suffering a 37-0 Homecoming Night defeat to Chiawana last week, Wa-Hi knows there is nowhere to go but up as the Blue Devils look to get into the postseason mix.

"We want to flush out any bad memories from last week," said Wa-Hi head coach Mike Gobel. "There were lessons to be learned from that game, but we want our kids to know that this is a new week and what we need to realize is that we need to put forth the effort that we are capable of."

Davis is led by a strong passing attack, quarterbacked by cannon-armed Deion Wright (junior, 6-foot, 172 pounds), who leads the Big Nine in passing yards and total offense. Wright has already thrown for 896 yards and nine touchdowns in Davis' first four games.

Junior wide receiver Cooper Kupp (5-11, 165) has been his primary target, hauling in 12 balls for 422 yards and four touchdowns. Fellow junior wideout David Trimble (6-1, 182) has also snagged his fair share of big-play receptions, compiling 191 yards and three touchdowns on nine catches.

"They have a big-play offense, and we are very aware of that," Gobel said. "Our defensive scheme is solid, and we are getting our guys where they need to be, but we just need to make plays. Everyone needs to do what they need to do and not worry about doing too much."

The Davis ground game is led by junior running back Austin Davis (5-9, 150), who has already found the end zone seven times, while racking up 307 yards on 57 carries, and senior Roberto Rodriguez (5-10, 181) has proven to be a big-play threat, amassing 127 yards on just 12 carries.

"We're determined to win and to stop their offense," said Wa-Hi senior linebacker and running back Madison Filan. "We've been practicing hard this week, and I think we'll be able to show that on defense."

Defensively, Davis is led by senior linebacker Nick Rodriguez (5-10, 185), who has two interceptions this season, and junior defensive back Carlos Parea-Vijarro (6-1, 146), who also has a pair of picks.

Davis will attempt to accomplish what Chiawana did last week - shut down the conference's leading receiver Moe Handcox, who was held to a single reception in the Wa-Hi defeat.

"It just comes down to the fact that we have to make plays," said Wa-Hi lineman Logan Reardon. "We have to want to win it. They have a really good pass offense, but we have to find a way to shut it down and to move the ball against them."

With both teams coming off losses, Friday figures to see a pair of teams fighting for Big Nine positioning. A defeat would drop the Blue Devils, who are currently tied with Moses Lake in sixth place of the Big Nine, into an 0-3 hole heading into their bye week.

"Where we are right now, we have no choice but to take it one game at a time," Gobel said. "Our entire focus is on the team in front of us. Getting ready for Davis is the only thing we are thinking about."

Davis (3-1 overall, 1-1 Big Nine), which finished last season without a Big Nine win, has already averted such a fate in 2010 with a win over Moses Lake, and a victory over Wa-Hi (1-3, 0-2) would place them squarely in the playoff hunt, while a Blue Devil win could wash away the memories of a rough start to conference play.

"We're working on being a lunch-pale crew," Gobel said. "I told all of our guys that never in my life have I put in extra effort and not been rewarded for it. It's just a matter of us putting forth the effort."


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