COFFEEVILLE – For every party involved with the Water Valley football program, the August 29 match up at Coffeeville was the game highlighted on the schedule all summer long.
Not only is every meeting between the Blue Devils and the Pirates a hotly contested one, this year, the rivalry game was the debut for Water Valley head coach Brad Embry. By all accounts, Embry’s debut was job well done, as the Blue Devils who finished 2-8 last season, opened their 2008 campaign with a 20-12 road victory.
In a game marred by turnovers, penalties, and an offensive consistency, the Blue Devils came out of the locker room flying. Behind first quarter touchdown runs by Tori Horton and D.C. Logan, the Blue Devils jumped out to a 14-0 lead, as Embry’s team dominated the opening quarter.
Defensively, Water Valley looks well on their way to putting last season in the past, as the Blue Devils came up with big plays and big hits all night. After a J.J. Hardy field goal attempt was blocked in the latter stages of the second quarter, Coffeeville took over possession, driving to the Water Valley 12.
With Coffeeville poised to take over momentum going into halftime, the Blue Devil defense proved to be a formidable group, causing a Pirate fumble to end the drive and the scoring threat.
The second half looked to be filled with more misfortune for Coffeeville, as the Pirates lost their quarterback on the opening drive of the second half. However, Coffeeville’s back-up proved to be more than a hand full for the Blue Devils.
“I thought we came out and played hard, we jumped on them 14-0, but we got a little tired in the second half,” said Embry. “Their quarterback had fresh legs and made some plays.”
After trading possessions, Coffeeville looked to rally in their home opener. After a 64-yard run set Coffeeville up inside the Water Valley five-yard line, the Pirates capitalized, scoring on a quarterback sneak, cutting the Water Valley lead to 14-6.
Numerous penalties stifled the Blue Devil offense in the next series, and Pirates looked to take advantage of Water Valley’s misfortunes. As Coffeeville’s momentum grew, and Blue Devil fatigue grew, the Pirates found themselves deep into Water Valley territory with seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter. However, Richard Russo’s defense forced yet another fumble, ending Coffeeville’s scoring threat.
“We have a lot of kids playing all three ways, and we don’t feel comfortable resting them on defense,” said Russo. “Getting turnovers and stops on third down are important for us, and we did a good job of that.”
Water Valley wasted little time before putting the game out of reach of the Pirates. Logan set up Water Valley for their next score, as the junior standout broke free for a 62-yard run on the Blue Devils first play after the Pirate fumble. After carrying the Blue Devils down the field, Logan capped off the drive with a 19-yard touchdown run at the 5:38 mark in the fourth quarter, pushing the Water Valley advantage to 20-6.
However, it took Coffeeville barely two minutes to respond, scoring on a 21-yard touchdown run with 3:10 left in the fourth quarter. After their second failed two-point conversion of the night, Water Valley’s lead was cut to 20-12.
Following a failed onside kick attempt, the Coffeeville defense forced a punt, however, the Pirates couldn’t move past their own 43, ending any last ditch comeback hopes.
“It was a game of turnovers and we didn’t play mistake free, but I’m proud of them,” said Embry. “All of it has to be cleaned up and it will be. But it’s easier to clean it up after a win.”
Logan Leads the Way
As the game wore on, and consistency on offense and defense was fading, there was one constant, D.C. Logan. Although the junior running back/safety sees little of the sideline during the game, fatigue was the least thing Logan showed on Friday night.
Offensively, Logan accounted for 188 yards of Water Valley’s 297 on 21 carries, scoring twice. Not to be overlooked, Logan’s defensive performance was authoritative to say the least. Along with 12 tackles, including three for loss and a fumble recovery, Logan had a highlight reel of hits on Coffeeville ball carriers throughout the night.
“He stepped up to the plate, and I hope more people follow his lead. I hope that we’ll have 22 kids step up like that,” said Russo. “We need to step up and say Blue Devil football is back.”
Water Valley Opens Home Campaign
Although Water Valley opened their season with a hard fought 20-12 at arch rival Coffeeville, the Blue Devils open their home campaign against Holly Springs on Friday night.
“That victory (Coffeeville) is in the past,” said Russo. “We’re 1-0, but we need to focus on Holly Springs and take it one game at a time.”
While Water Valley leads the all time series against Holly Springs 30-11-2, the Blue Devils have lost two straight in the series for the first time in nearly 40 years. Holly Springs opened their season with a 42-29 loss to Cordova, TN, but Embry and Russo are quick to note that Friday night’s opposition has athleticism capable of troubling the Blue Devils. Russo expects his defense to have to deal with both the run and the pass, as Holly Springs could feature several formations throughout the night.
“We’re going to have to focus on both schemes,” said Russo. “They run multiple formations, I counted 14 in film studies.”
After a 21-14 loss to Holly Springs in 2007 season sent Water Valley’s season into a drastic tailspin, Embry’s Blue Devils will look to open the home portion of their schedule with a win over Holly Springs, which would give Water Valley plenty to build on at 2-0.