By Reid Bankston
WATER VALLEY – After recording a 6-6 overall record in Brad Embry’s first season as head coach, the Water Valley Blue Devils are looking to continue to make strides in 2009. However, with the graduation of several key linemen, including Delta State signee J.J. Woodard, the Blue Devils had more questions than answers heading into last Friday’s Spring Jamboree against Senatobia. Holes along both the offensive and defensive lines, coupled with quarterback Josh Johnson being sidelined with a broken hand, stifled the Blue Devils, as they fell 19-0 to Senatobia.
“We looked rusty on offense. On defense I thought we did a lot of things good, we had a couple of kids that missed some tackles that they don’t normally miss, but that’s fine,” said Embry. “You don’t win a state championship in the spring.”
Although backup quarterback Matt Dalton displayed potential, the presence of Johnson was sorely missed in the Blue Devil backfield, as Water Valley struggled throughout the game with offensive inefficiency. The play of running back Zenty Allen was a positive for the Blue Devils, as the newcomer to Embry’s program will look to spell D.C. Logan during the regular season.
“Zenty Allen is a kid that is new to our program and we didn’t know much about him, but he really looked good out there,” said Embry.
Defensively, Embry will look for linebacker J.D. Fondon to anchor the Blue Devils. Although the losses along the defensive line could cause some growing pains for the Water Valley defense, the talent is in place for this unit to become the team’s strength. “We’re going to be fine on the defensive line, I’m real pleased with what they’ve done this spring,” said Embry. “We know what J.D. can do, he was great last year, but he looked a little rusty because he had one day of practice. Once we plug all the things in, I’ll feel really good about our defense.”
The Blue Devil secondary had some bright spots on the night, highlighted by the play of cornerback Chris Conard, but pass coverage did look to be a problem at some points during the game. Although the secondary appeared a bit out of sync at times, a core of Eric Buckley, Tommy St. Romain, D.C. Logan, and Chris Conard could be the best class 3A has to offer.