Water Valley Will Host M.S. Palmer In First Round
By Reid Bankston
WATER VALLEY – It was a different week, but the same old story for Water Valley (6-4 overall, 4-1 region). With region 2-3A’s number two seed on the line, Blue Devil running back D.C. Logan was simply dominant in a 31-0 victory over the Mooreville Troopers.
“D.C. is a pretty good weapon and I like to give him the football, it’s not real complicated,” said Water Valley head coach Brad Embry. “He’s a game changer.
Logan, who has now accumulated 18 touchdowns on the season, gave the Blue Devils the lead with an early 17 yard touchdown run.
Blue Devil quarterback Josh Johnson found Logan on the ensuing possession on a seam route for a 75 yard touchdown reception, giving Water Valley an early 14-0 lead.
Any hopes of a Mooreville road victory were all but gone after conceding another huge play to Logan, as the senior standout broke free for a 70 yard touchdown run.
A smothering Blue Devil defense stifled the Mooreville spread offense, as defensive coordinator Richard Russo saw his group record their third shutout of the season. J.D. Fondon recorded his eighth double digit tackling performance of the season with 12 tackles, while Desmond Hervey recorded 10 stops in just his second career start at cornerback. Sophomore Keldrick Hooper passed the 100 tackle mark for the season in his first year as a starter.
After a second half Johnson field goal increased the Blue Devil lead to 24-0, the Water Valley defense capped off a stellar performance with a touchdown of their own when cornerback Chris Conard broke on a Mooreville pass, scoring on an 84 yard interception return.
“They (Mooreville) were attempting to throw their best pass pattern and Chris had defended it well all week in practice, so it came as no surprise that he made the play,” said Russo. “Chris is very coachable, and when you add that to his talent, you get a very solid football player.”
Now, after closing the regular season on a three game win streak, the Blue Devils must now turn their attention to the program’s second straight playoff appearance under Embry’s guidance.
After a humbling 33-14 first round playoff loss at Leland in 2008, Russo believes the 2009 version of the Blue Devils are better suited for playoff success.
“Last season, our team was setting the foundation for the rebuilding process and the playoffs were a new experience to that group,” said Russo. “It should be a familiar feeling to the majority of our current players and they know that you have to up your game both in practice, preparation, and for those 48 minutes. This team is very hungry to show 3A that we belong.”
The Blue Devils first hurdle in what many around the Water Valley program believe could be a lengthy playoff run are the Marks-Palmer Dragons (6-3, 3-2).
The Dragons, out of region 3-3A, are also on a three game win streak with wins over Ruleville, Central, Indepen-dence, and Holly Springs. The Marks-Palmer defense has been yielding 10 points a game in that stretch of games.
Offensively, much like Water Valley, the Dragons are a run first team, guided by an improving offensive line and speed at the skill positions.
“M.S. Palmer is a power running team. We have charted them at 80% run. They don’t do anything fancy up front with blocking schemes, they simply rely on their big offensive line to push you around and create seams for their athletic and fast skill players,” said Russo.
While Russo will be looking to try to stop the Dragon running game, the second year coordinator will also be looking for the Blue Devil fan base to do their part, creating a strong home field advantage for a surging Water Valley squad.
“It would be huge for the entire community of Water Valley to come out and support these Blue Devils,” said Russo.
“They have truly put in the hard work and dedication to take the program back to the level it has been in the past and bring the tradition back to where it should be. I encourage everybody to let these boys know that the town is behind them 100 percent and pack Clark Field on Friday.”