Blue Devils at full strength as Pirates invade

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WALLA WALLA — Wa-Hi head football coach Eric Hisaw had his share of concerns following his team’s 21-6 loss to Richland last Friday night at Fran Rish Stadium.

Linebacker Troy Aguilar and running back/linebacker Willie Hayes suffered high ankle sprains, receiver Mitch Huffman got his “bell rung,” Hisaw said, and several Blue Devil players suffered cramps during the course of the game that commenced in 90-plus-degree heat.

The good news is that 0-2 Wa-Hi, a Mid-Columbia Conference member, is expected to be at full strength when it hosts the Big Nine Conference’s Davis Pirates (1-1) Friday at 7 p.m. at Borleske Stadium.

“We should be as healthy as we can be,” Hisaw said. “We still have to get reps. Maybe we need to get them done more efficiently — slow the tempo down in practice and get more quality reps.

“They didn’t beat us up. They had more depth,” he said when looking back at the Richland game. “We played well enough to win, but made too many mistakes to win.”

The kicking game is another concern, Hisaw said. A high snap out of punt formation midway through the first quarter and a short punt late in the fourth resulted in short-field situations for the Richland offense — touchdown drives of 37 and 24 yards, respectively.

Another area the Blue Devils need to clean up, Hisaw said, is the penalty category. Wa-Hi was guilty of nine infractions for 91 yards against Richland, including multiple personal fouls.

“Those hurt us,” Hisaw said. “It helped them with field position. We need to be smarter.”

In spite of these shortcomings, Hisaw said his team’s effort is a strong suit.

“I’m not sure we’ve had a team play this hard with so few kids,” Hisaw said. “They refuse to quit. I absolutely love our effort, will, and fight.”

Zach Zehner is fourth among Mid-Columbia quarterbacks with 390 passing yards through two games. He has completed 35-of-62 throws with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Zehner is No. 3 in the league in total offense (441 yards).

Receivers Darnell Handcox and Huffman are two of the Mid-Columbia’s best.

Handcox is No. 1 in receptions with 12 and has gained 144 yards on those receptions.

Huffman is tied for second with 10 grabs and has 107 yards receiving.

Davis is coming off a 53-13 loss to Wenatchee in its last outing after a season-opening 41-37 victory over Eastmont two weeks ago.

The Pirates have shown an ability to move the ball, but were unsuccessful defending their first two opponents.

Davis gained 341 yards per game, but allowed an average of 417 yards per contest.

Quarterback Nikhil Lizotte has connected on 30-of-57 passes for 363 yards, good for third in the Big Nine. He has thrown for five touchdown and has been picked off twice. Lizotte is second in total offense (438 yards).

Receivers Eric Briscoe and Ketner Kupp are among four Big Nine pass catchers tied for second in the league with eight receptions. Briscoe, second in the league with 20 points (three touchdowns and two extra points), has gained 122 yards while Kupp has netted 121.

“They toss the ball around the yard, but they’re pretty balanced,” Hisaw siad. “They keep you honest. They do a good job with what they try to accomplish.

Defensively, the Pirates are an athletic bunch, Hisaw said.

“They dance, move, and fake,” Hisaw said. “They put a lot of pressure on you up front. It will be a good test for us.

“It should be a good ballgame, entertaining,” Hisaw said. “I hope the stands are packed because these kids deserve that kind of a crowd.”

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