Blue Devils hope for déjà vu against Chiefs

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WALLA WALLA — Wa-Hi will be gunning for déjà vu when it opens its 2013 football season Friday night in Moses Lake.

After going winless in 2011, the Blue Devils opened their 2012 campaign with a 22-18 victory over the Chiefs at Borleske Stadium.

With two weeks of practices under his team’s belt, Wa-Hi coach Eric Hisaw is liking what he is seeing thus far.

“I’m happy with the kids’ work ethic,” Hisaw said. “I like how they prepare for practice every day. We didn’t have that terrible practice where we didn’t get anything out of it.”

Hisaw has been quite appreciative of his team’s focus as the season opener looms.

“They’ve risen to every challenge we’ve given them,” Hisaw said. “They’ve done a good job of being sharp with the task at hand.”

A pair of returning seniors who will be participating in their third year of varsity ball — Stuart Gillin and Darnell Handcox — are looking forward to 2013 challenges with great anticipation.

“I have a little countdown (device) on my phone that tells me how many hours before kickoff,” said Gillin, a fullback and linebacker. “I like to look at it now and again.

“We’ve made a lot of progress over the last two weeks,” Gillin said. “Last week, we had two-a-days. Now we’re dialing back and watching things a little closer. We’ve had more mental preparation this week.”

“We’re looking good,” said Handcox, who plays wide receiver and safety, and will return both punts and kickoffs this season. “I’m really excited for the juniors. They have put in a lot of hard work this summer. I’m looking forward to seeing how they do in a game.

“We’ve come a long way,” Handcox said. “Everyone’s grown. Our mentality has changed a lot. Last year, we learned how to win. This year, we hope to build off of that.”

Gillen and Handcox said they have both accepted more of a leadership role this year.

“For a lot of guys, this will be their first Friday night (in a varsity game),” Gillin said. “I’ve been telling them, ‘Mistakes will happen. It’s about how you respond. It’s a case of who bounces back and makes fewer mistakes.’”

“I’ve taken a couple of junior wide receivers under my wing,” Handcox said. “I’ve told them to not get distracted, do what we practice, and do your best.”

Hisaw also took time to express respect for Friday’s opponent.

“The are always well prepared and very physical,” he said of the Chiefs. “They made big strides last year.”

Moses Lake likes to run the gun option on offense and will display different fronts and packages on defense, Hisaw said.

“They pressure the heck out of you. They are tough to defend,” Hisaw said. “They can cause a lot of problems for you.

“We need to take care of ourselves,” Hisaw said when discussing series when his team possesses the ball. “We have a lot of new guys. We need to handle (circumstances) with composure and do things right.”

Handcox and Gillin are expecting a tough test.

“It will be a rough game,” Handcox said. “We need to come out and hit as hard as we can. It will be about which team can hit the hardest.”

“The Moses game last year was huge for us,” Gillen said, “and it’s huge again this year.”

Game time Friday is 7 p.m.

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