WALLA WALLA — All Wa-Hi needs to do to guarantee itself a postseason berth this season, is win its last two regular season games.
In the words of the distinguished orator and college football commentator Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friends.”
The Kamiakin Braves, tied for first in the Mid-Columbia Conference, invade Borleske Stadium Friday night looking to put some air between themselvs and the jumbled middle of the MCC standings and secure a Class 3A play-in berth.
Kamiakin (4-1 MCC, 5-2 overall) brings to bear the league’s most explosive and high-scoring offense and features a quarterback that leads the league in touchdowns and passing yardage and two receivers that each average more than 18 yards a catch.
It’s a far cry from the run-first offenses the Blue Devils (1-4, 3-4) have seen thus far in MCC play.
“Their quarterback is probably the best kid in the league,” Wa-Hi coach Eric Hisaw said of the Braves. “He does a really good job. He’s got some pretty dynamic weapons.”
Kamiakin’s signal caller, Kylle Robertson, has thrown for 1,396 yards and 16 touchdowns this season while completing 85-of-168 attempts (50.6 percent).
Receiver Javan Williams has outclassed his MCC peers despite it being his first year of organized football, catching 29 balls for six scores and 18.8 yards-per-catch.
“The Williams kid ... he is strong, he is athletic, and he is tall,” Hisaw said of the 6-foot-1 senior. “He is an athletic kid; he makes a lot of plays just being an athlete, so it’s something that we’ve got to deal with and hopefully we can keep him in front of us and do things right to keep the ball out of his hands.”
But the Blue Devils won’t have only Williams to focus on — Williams’ teammate K Perrins has been equally impressive, racking up 18.9 yards-per-catch on 20 receptions with 378 yards and six touchdowns.
“It needs to be a collective unit this week,” Hisaw said of his defensive secondary, “because they’ll put one guy over here and they’ll put another guy over here, and they like to throw both sides the rock.
“We’ve got to keep the two kids who get the ball from going nuts,” Hisaw said. “And if we can do that and make them drive the field a bunch, then that’s going to be a really good deal for us.”
If there is one weakness for the Braves’ passing game, it’s that Robertson also leads the league in interceptions with 10.
To counter the Braves’ passing prowess, expect Wa-Hi to drop six or seven backers into coverage. That means the defensive line will be put on the proverbial island frequently.
“We need those guys up front to contain him and we need to be able to control the run with four guys up front” in addition to pressuring Roberston, Hisaw said. “If we can do that, then we can afford to keep six or seven back in coverage.”
As a defense, however, Hisaw said he didn’t expect the Blue Devils to change much schematically this far into the season.
“We have a couple little wrinkles, but nothing crazy,” Hisaw said. “We’re just going to let (Wa-Hi’s defense) play as fast and as confident as they can.”
The Blue Devils will also try and use their league-leading rushing attack to try and limit Kamiakin’s time of possession.
“The more we can move the ball and keep them off the field, the better for us,” Hisaw said. “It’d nice to be able to be on the field for some eight-, nine-play drives and be able to score six, not three, and to keep them off the field.”
Key to that game plan as always will be Jonah Hoe and the Blue Devil O-line, who have, at times, been steam rollers.
Hoe currently leads the league in touchdowns and yards with 1,303 yards and 14 touches, and should find more success against the Braves than the stingy Southridge defense he faced last week if he can get past Kamiakin’s first line.
“They always play a lot of man (coverage), so there’s not many people (watching the run),” Hisaw said. “If you break the crust it’s ‘bye bye.’ You can take off on them.”
Nevertheless, it won’t be a cakewalk for the Blue Devil running game.
“They like to bring a lot of pressure and keep things in front,” Hisaw said. “They run to the ball very, very well. It’s a misleading defense, they are very good.”
Friday night’s game will be the last at Borleske for Wa-Hi’s seniors, who, unless they played varsity as freshmen, have never seen a winning season, much less a playoff run.
“We’ve got to control the seniors last game at this special place and make it memorable for them,” Hisaw said. “What better way to go out of your senior year than to go out on a win over Kamiakin here at Borleske?”
Should the Blue Devils lose to the Braves they won’t necessarily be eliminated from playoff contention. Because the MCC has two Class 4A play-ins arranged with the Greater Spokane League and only four teams — Chiawana, Pasco, Richland and Walla Walla — to give them to, Wa-Hi only needs to beat out Chiawana to take the last spot.
If both teams lose Friday night and Wa-Hi beats the Riverhawks in Pasco Oct. 26, then they will be tied at 3-3 in league, but with Wa-Hi holding the head-to-head win.
A Chiawana win Friday and a Wa-Hi loss, however, would end any chance at the postseason for the Blue Devils.
“We need to take care of our end of business,” Hisaw said. “If we lose and they win, it’s all over with. We talked with the kids about the chances ... but we have no chance if we don’t take care of our own game. The whole focus has been on Kamiakin all week and it will be all week.”
Mid-Columbia Conference Standings
Southridge 4-1 5-2
Kamiakin 4-1 5-2
Hanford 3-2 5-2
Richland 3-2 4-2-
Kennewick 3-2 4-2-1
Chiawana 2-3 4-3
Walla Walla 1-4 3-4
Pasco 0-5 0-7
Chiawana at Southridge
Kennewick at Pasco
Richland at Hanford
Kamiakin at Walla Walla