By Reid Bankston
LELAND – After completing a .500 regular season, Water Valley will look to leave its mark in the playoffs. The Blue Devils’ first round opposition, is region four’s number one seed, the Leland Cubs.
“They’ve (Leland) got what you want in a football team, they’re very impressive. You can look at them and tell that they’re physical. When the chips are down, they’ll run straight at you,” said Defensive Coordinator Richard Russo.
“They (Water Valley) better have their best week of practice because Leland is very impressive, they have a ton of athletes and they deserve to be number one in their region.”
The Cubs are coming off an 8-2 regular season, including a 5-0 record in division play. Leland, led by head coach Eugene Sanders, are riding a five game winning streak, their last loss coming at the hands of West Bolivar, 42-22.
Although the Blue Devils are widely regarded as underdogs heading to Leland, Russo suggests that Water Valley has what it takes to emerge victorious.
“The playoffs are set up for us,” said Russo. “I believe if we out practice them this week and out technique them Friday night, it wouldn’t be an upset to beat Leland. We just can’t come out flat footed. If we play to our capability for 4 quarters, we can play with anybody in the state.”
Which Water Valley team shows up will be critical in determining the outcome, as the Blue Devils have run hot or cold throughout the season. Leading the way for a Blue Devil victory will need to be Logan and Johnson offensively, while J.D. Fondon and J.J. Woodard will look to keep the Cub offense in check. Fondon, who brought his season tackle total to 106 with a 16 tackle performance at Ackerman, will play a vital role, along with Woodard and safety Tommy St. Romain, in stabilizing a Blue Devil defense that was exposed at Ackerman.