Despite sporting a 1-1 Mid-Columbia Conference record heading into Week 5 of the regular season, Walla Walla High School’s offense has rolled to the tune of 90 points and 890 yards through its first two league games.
The Blue Devils (2-2 overall) will likely face the toughest defense they’ve encountered this season when they take on the Southridge Suns (2-2, 1-1 MCC) at 7 p.m. Friday at Lampson Stadium.
The Suns held Pasco to just 243 yards in their 27-7 Week 3 victory over the Bulldogs, and they kept the Richland passing attack grounded for the first half last week, eventually falling to the No. 1 Bombers 26-10.
Southridge coach Keith Munson said his team is looking forward to the challenge of slowing down a Blue Devils offense that is second in the conference in both scoring (45 points per game) and yards gained (456.5 per game).
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“Their quarterback is very fast and their line is big, so we’ve got try to get around those Coke machines of linemen,” Munson said. “Our emphasis this week is giving up no yards after contact, YACs. We gave up too many of those last week and the previous week. When we tackle, we need to get people on the ground immediately.”
Walla Walla features a weapon unlike any the Suns have encountered this season: senior quarterback and three-sport star Mitch Lesmeister. The league leader in total offense (1,343 combined rushing and passing yards), Lesmeister has almost single-handedly kept Walla Walla in games this season, in spite of the Blue Devils allowing a league-high 418.3 yards and 37.6 points per game on defesne.
Southridge senior linebacker Corey Bibe — one of the team’s leaders with 33 tackles — will be one of the key players responsible for keeping Lesmeister in check.
“Richland liked to pass the ball, Walla Walla likes to run the ball, so it’s more action for us up front,” Bibe said. “It’ll be a good game. I’m excited for it.”
Despite entering the third week of MCC play with the No. 2 scoring and total offense, Blue Devils coach Eric Hisaw said his team has left a lot of points on the field.
“We’re young. We’ve got three sophomores starting up front, so we’re really green up behind the ears,” Hisaw said. “But that’s gotta go away. We’re in Week 5, and we’ve gotta play better up front.”
The high-octane offense has also been covered up by some troubles on the defensive end, which Hisaw attributes to struggles with tackling — a concern heading into a matchup with the Suns, who have run the ball on 76 percent of their offensive plays this season.
“They do an awfully good job of that veer or that dive offense, which is always so different because it is something that you don’t see all the time,” Hisaw said. “It’s assignment football, versus a gap or a zone. It is different, and if we don’t tackle well in space this week and don’t play better, it should be a real long night for us again.”
Walla Walla fell to Kennewick 41-40 last week after giving up 20 points in the fourth quarter to go to overtime, and then failing a two-point conversion after scoring a touchdown in OT — the result of the team’s struggles with place kicking. The week prior, the Blue Devils narrowly escaped Fran Rish Stadium with a 50-48 win over Hanford, as Falcons sophomore quarterback Garrett Horner threw for 290 yards and three scores, two of which came in the fourth quarter.
For the Blue Devils to take care of business against the Suns, Hisaw said his team just needs to simplify things.
“We need to make the routine plays, we’re not making the simple plays,” HIsaw said. “We’re making the simple plays look difficult, almost like we’re trying to make the big play on every play. We need to make the simple play.”
Around the MCC
KAMIAKIN AT HANFORD: The Braves (3-1, 1-1) took their frustration out on Pasco last Friday following thier Week 3 loss to Chiawana, dispatching the Bulldogs 56-6.
Senior quaterback Zach Borisch will look to lead the Kamiakin offense in a potential shootout against Horner and the Falcons (2-2, 0-2), who are still looking for their first MCC win of the season.
Hanford — which is giving up 372.3 yards per game (seventh in the MCC) — spent almost all of last week in an eight-in-the-box defensive formation, which was fairly successful in slowing down Chiawana senior running back Andrew Vargas. However, quarterback Troy Simpkins and the Riverhawks offense rose to the occassion and trounced the Falcons 49-14.
RICHLAND AT PASCO: Hoping to get their offense back on track after a sluggish start last week, the Bombers (4-0, 2-0) will take on the struggling Bulldogs (0-4, 2-0) at Edgar Brown Stadium.
Richland senior wide receiver/cornerback Alex Chapman continued to establish himself as one of the league’s top athletes, hauling in six passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns against Southridge.
COLUMBIA-BURBANK AT CONNELL: While the Eagles (4-0, 2-0 SCAC East) have a huge game looming with an Oct. 14 matchup with Royal — likely to determine a conference champion — they should get a pretty stiff challenge from the Coyotes (2-2), who have won both of their league contests.
Burbank sophomore quarterback Reece Humphreys has shown poise beyond his years, accounting for 245 passing and rushing yards and four touchdowns in a Week 4 win over Kiona-Benton.
Quarterback Brian Hawkins, running back Jaxs Whitby and tight end Steven Kroontje continued to lead Connell in its 48-13 win over Warden last week. Whitby scampered for 97 yards and three touchdowns, and Hawkins threw four touchdown passes, one of which went to Kroontje.
Other local matchups include East Valley at Prosser, Royal at Wahluke, River View at Kiona-Benton, Warden at College Place, Tri-Cities Prep at White Swan, Mabton at DeSales, Dayton-Waitsburg at Lyle-Wishram, Liberty Christian at Kittitas, Hermiston at Hood River Valley, and Lummi at Touchet (3 p.m. Saturday).
Kennewick hosted Chiawana on Thursday night in MCC play.