By Reid Bankston
It wasn’t pretty, and at times it was downright sloppy, but the end result for Brad Embry’s Blue Devils could not have been better, as Water Valley put together the plays when it mattered to thrash Williams-Sullivan 39-6. The win over the Yellowjackets takes Water Valley’s record to 4-3, while evening their division record at 1-1.
“We won. We’re good enough that we can play bad and win,” said Embry. “They’re (Williams-Sullivan) getting better, they’ve got some good athletes, and Coach Roundtree did a good job of getting them the ball in space and we were flat footed all night.”
The hangover of Water Valley’s grueling 28-12 loss to Eupora in their division opener was clearly evident from the opening whistle, as penalties and missed assignments plagued the Blue Devils throughout the night.
“I think they expected things to happen quicker than they did and I don’t think that they expected them (Williams-Sullivan) to put forth the effort they did,” said defensive coordinator Richard Russo.
After Water Valley’s first drive stalled near midfield, Williams-Sullivan quickly took a 6-0 lead with 7:26 remaining in the first quarter, as Yellow Jacket quarter back Donvante Walden connected with receiver Jaleel McGee from three yards out to cap off an eight play scoring drive.
Water Valley found no response on their next drive, as the Blue Devils were forced into a three and out. However, Russo’s defense created the breakthrough on Williams-Sullivan’s ensuing drive, as Dewayne Samuel intercepted a Walden pass, setting Water Valley up on the Yellow Jacket 26 yard line. Behind determined running from D.C. Logan and J.D. Fondon, Water Valley went ahead 7-6 on a three yard Logan touchdown run with 11:55 remaining in the second quarter.
After a three and out on Williams-Sullivan’s next possession, Logan struck again, as the junior standout capped off a seven play, 48-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown run, taking the Blue Devil advantage to 14-6 with 6:52 remaining before the half.
After trading possessions, the Blue Devil defense proved once again to be opportunistic, as freshman safety Tommy St. Romain intercepted another Walden pass, putting Water Valley in great position to extend the lead. The Blue Devils did just that, as a 59-yard run by Logan set up quarterback Josh Johnson’s one yard touchdown run with 2:04 left in the second quarter, extending the Water Valley lead to 21-6. Johnson nearly put Water Valley further ahead seconds before the half, but senior Tank Hervey couldn’t haul in the junior quarterback’s pass.
Thanks in large part to what could have been the longest homecoming ceremony in Mississippi high school history, neither Williams-Sullivan or Water Valley could get anything going in an extremely sloppy and penalty filled third quarter.
“We’re growing as a football program, and in football, you have to learn to put a big game behind you and not look past any game and we didn’t do a good job of that. We let last week linger and it showed at times,” said Embry.
Not to be outdone by their backfield compatriot Logan, the sophomore duo of Torrey Horton and Eric Buckley put the Blue Devils beyond reach of the Yellowjackets, scoring on four and 20 yard touchdown runs respectively, putting Water Valley ahead 33-6 with 4:10 remaining in the fourth quarter. The backfield trio for the Blue Devils rushed for 226 yards on 29 carries, accounting for four touchdowns.
The line blocked well and the backs ran well, all of them,” said Embry. “Eric Buckley and Torrey Horton ran the ball extremely hard, and there were holes all night long.”
The damage inflicted on Williams-Sullivan was not limited to the Blue Devil offense, as a fumble recovery by defensive lineman Malcolm Horton put the final touches on Water Valley’s 39-6 division win with 3:47 left before the final whistle.
Blue Devil Quartet Leads Water Valley Defense
After struggling to contain a powerful Eupora rushing attack, the Blue Devil defense got back on track in convincing fashion against Williams-Sullivan. The Water Valley defense yielded only 147 yards, holding the Yellowjackets to only 35 rushing yards, and forced three crucial turnovers, all of which led directly to Blue Devil touchdowns.
Leading the dominating defensive performance were J.J. Woodard, Fondon, Samuel, and Xavier Vincent. Woodard collected defensive MVP honors for his 10 tackle, two sack performance, while Fondon and Samuel combined for 18 tackles, two sacks, and one interception. Vincent, who continues to show improved play, recorded an 89 percent assignment grade, and provided an explosive hit on the Williams-Sullivan backup quarterback, easily the play of the night.
“The defense and offense had to come up big because we were ready to play ball tonight, we were just ready to go,” said Woodard. “We are getting better and better every week. We’re playing hard and we’re fighting to get a playoff spot.”