WALLA WALLA - A pair of hungry high school football teams will take the field Friday night at Kennewick's Lampson Stadium hoping to end the evening with their first win of the 2011 season.
Wa-Hi and Southridge suffered season-opening defeats last week. The Blue Devils bowed to Hermiston, 28-21, at Borleske Stadium. The Suns were edged by Wenatchee, 18-17.
Despite the seven-point setback, Wa-Hi coach Eric Hisaw, running back Jonah Hoe and linebacker Kyle Jameson were upbeat following a practice session this week.
"I loved our kids' effort and desire," Hisaw said. "We had every chance in the world to fold. The kids made plays and refused to let a negative play effect what they were going to do. I'm proud of them.
"We left the locker room (last Friday night) feeling pretty good."
"We had a great effort," said Hoe, who rushed for 155 yards on 28 carries in the opener. "We made plays we wouldn't have made last year on both sides of the ball. There were guys out there that didn't quit."
"We're getting a chance to see what it's like not to give up," Jameson said. "It's a mental test as well as physical. Hopefully we can take that for growth."
Hisaw, Hoe and Jameson all realize, though, that there is room for improvement.
"They are pure, basic assignment things," Hisaw said of the kinks that need to be worked out. "We need to work with these kids and see how far we can go."
"It's about getting our assignments right," Hoe said. "Coach Hisaw has talked to us a lot about being in the right spot. We need to work on being relentless the rest of the season."
"We need to get our reads right," Jameson said. "I'm getting more comfortable with the linebacker position (after playing safety last season). We need to work on finishing all the way through the whistle and being able to trust (one another)."
Southridge quarterback Matt Mendenhall threw for 235 yards on 16 completions against Wenatchee. He connected with six different receivers including Clay Gonzalez, who caught five passes for 75 yards.
"Their quarterback is the real deal," Hisaw said. "He has a rocket arm. He's accurate, mobile, and knows what he wants to do. He may be the best quarterback we see all year."
Running back Chris Haueter ran for 139 yards on 22 carries last week and scored both of the Suns' touchdowns.
"He has a refusal to go to the ground," Hisaw said. "He's a punisher and changes directions. He's one to be reckoned with."
Southridge allowed 368 yards to Wenatchee, but only 84 rushing on 29 totes.
"They rally to the ball," Hisaw said. "They will give us all we can handle. They get to the rock in a mean, nasty manner. They move side to side and take on lead blocks well."
Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday.
"They want it just as bad as we do," Jameson said. "We'll see who brings the effort all the way."