By Reid Bankston
At Coffeeville August 29
Although the Blue Devil’s matchup against the Pirates is the season opener, in many ways, it could be Water Valley’s biggest game of the season. The 2007 meeting between the heated rivals ended with Water Valley on top 36-16, accounting for one of the Blue Devil’s two victories on the season. If Water Valley is to turn things around in head coach Brad Embry’s first season, a win in this heated rivalry in the season opener is crucial.
“The Coffeeville game is the most important,” said Embry. “It’s the first game, and we need some confidence. We just need to go out there and play like we’re capable of.”
While the significance of this game is not overlooked by Embry, it is the rivalry between the two schools that have several Blue Devil players and coaches ready for the Pirates.
“If we’re only playing marbles, we’re going to compete against Coffeeville,” said defensive line coach Bryant Mix, a former Water Valley and Alcorn State standout.
One of the keys for not only this matchup, but for the season as a whole, will be the Water Valley running game. Junior Davidtron “DC” Logan, who rushed for 85 yards on 16 carries while adding an 85 yard touchdown reception against Coffeeville in 2007, will look to duplicate his previous performance against the Pirates in the 2008 opener.
“It’s real important to beat Coffeeville, they’re our closest rivals,” said Logan.
If Water Valley is to bounce back from an abysmal 2007 season where injuries and inexperience led the Blue Devil’s to a 2-8 record, a win over Coffeeville in the season opener is a must
October 3 Eupora
With a favorable schedule that sees three of the Blue Devil’s first 5 games in their own backyard, Water Valley could enter their first division showdown of the year with Eupora with a record of 3-2. However, getting off to a fast start in the division could be tough, as Water Valley opens its division slate with a team that defeated the Blue Devils 30-6 in 2007. Last year’s defeat to the Eagles was Water Valley’s worst defeat to Eupora since a 41-0 loss in 1981. In a game where penalties and turnovers hampered the Blue Devils, Eupora took advantage, imposing their dominance on Water Valley. However, quarterback Leo Daniels believes that they now have the head coach that can correct the mental mistakes that devastated the Blue Devils in 2007.
“Coach Embry has us more disciplined, and he pays more attention to details than last year,” said Daniels.
While defeating Eupora, who holds a 7-2 edge in the series between the two schools, will in no way be easy, it is an attainable goal. If the Blue Devils come up with a win in their division opener, a turnaround season could quickly turn into a playoff season.
At Bruce October 17
If there was one game that embodied Water Valley’s 2007 season, it was a 61-20 home loss to the Bruce Trojans. The Blue Devil offense put up 20 points in a high scoring first half, but a youthful and injury ravaged Water Valley defense couldn’t slow down Bruce’s 2,533 yard rusher Richard Freelon, or the rest of the Trojan offense.
In fact, the 61 points given up by the Blue Devils is tied for the second most points allowed in a single game in school history.
While it appears Bruce will once again be heavily favored to repeat their 2007 victory over Water Valley, the Blue Devil players are bound and determined to not relive that 41 point loss again.
“We want to beat Bruce because of how bad they beat us,” said Logan. “Nobody on the team is expecting to lose games this year.”
The 2008 matchup between the Blue Devils of Water Valley and the Trojans of Bruce can be described in one way, a statement game. If Water Valley is looking to make a statement, announcing their return to competitive football in Class 2A, this is the game to do it.
“The entire Water Valley Blue Devil nation is ready to restore the tradition of this program,” said first year defensive coordinator Richard Russo.
Of Water Valley’s ten games, there is no doubt that this is the Blue Devil’s best opportunity to prove that this program is on its way back up.