Wa-Hi rides momentum against Braves

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WALLA WALLA — Walla Walla High School enters its Mid-Columbia Conference football game with Kamiakin on Friday night at Lampson Stadium in Kennewick with a heavy dose of momentum.

Last Friday’s 26-21 road victory over league rival Southridge guaranteed the Wa-Hi football program its first winning season since 2009 and its third since the 2005 campaign — the last time a Blue Devil squad posted a win at “The Lamp.”

“It was a great win for the kids... to beat a team that’s been to the playoffs and contended for league championships,” Wa-Hi coach Eric Hisaw said. “Beating those guys on their home field was great for these kids and the program.”

Wa-Hi (4-1 MCC, 5-2 overall) currently boasts a five-game winning streak, the program’s longest since 2002. The 2002 Blue Devils enjoyed a stretch of seven straight victories on their way to a berth in the Class 4A state semifinals.

But if anyone thinks Hisaw is satisfied, they are mistaken.

“There have been a lot of firsts and seconds this year,” Hisaw said. “A lot of monumental things have happened. It’s been a cool thing for the kids to be a part of. But we’re not content with a winning season.

“The kids continue to rise and meet every expectation they’ve set and we’ve set,” he said. “The little things we’re doing right are paying off. The program has gotten over the hump.”

Wa-Hi is ranked fifth in the MCC in offense and third on defense.

Quarterback Zach Zehner is fourth in the conference in both passing yards (1,149) and total offense (1,347).

Wide receiver Darnell Handcox is second with 28 receptions (for 349 yards) and fellow wideout Mitch Huffman is tied for third in the MCC with 27 catches.

The Blue Devil defense has allowed the second fewest points in the league (94) and intercepted 14 passes in their last five games. Handcox has picked off a conference-leading six throws and teammate Trever Coronado has four.

Huffman, Stuart Gillin, Gerardo Gomez and Reid Magnaghi have one interception apiece.

“They are ball hawks,” Hisaw said. “They have a great feel back there. They anticipate so well.”

If the Blue Devils are to achieve their sixth straight win, they will have to slow down a Kamiakin team that possesses one of the league’s most explosive offenses.

The Braves (3-2, 5-2), who average just under 42 points per game, have one of the MCC’s top running backs. Umid Ramizov’s 897 rushing yards ranks second in the conference. He is first in touchdowns scored (14), points scored (84), and all-purpose yards (1,051).

Quarterback Kyle Robertson is the league’s leader in passing yards (1,578) and is even with Richland’s Zach Whitby for the MCC lead in touchdown passes (14). Robertson is No. 1 in total offense (1,613).

Austin Gutierrez is Kamiakin’s top receiver statistically. He has caught 27 passes for 539 yards and six touchdowns.

“They do a lot of things well,” Hisaw said. “They will spread you out more than any other team in the league. They throw the ball all over the yard.”

Defensively, Kamiakin runs a 4-3 set and will “blitz from all different angles,” Hisaw said.

The Braves are allowing just 97 yards per game on the ground.

“This will be another great measuring stick,” Hisaw said. “It will be a fun game. I can’t wait to be in the middle of it.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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