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Missing Starters, Blue Devils Struggle Against Tigers

Blue Devils (from left) Demetruis Ingram, Jonathan Kent and Taghee James combine for the tackle in the hard-fought contest against Charleston last week. The Blue Devils face Holly Springs Friday in their second game of division play. – Photo by Mark Anthony

By Jacob Pryor
Sports Reporter

WATER VALLEY — Bobby Clark Stadium Friday night was full of screaming fans; unfortunately it was for the visiting team  when the final buzzer sounded as the Water Valley Blue Devils (3-4) faced number three ranked Charleston Tigers (4-2). The Blue Devils scored twice in the contest, once on the ground by Kirkland Horton and the other through the air by Jonathan Kent but in the end Charleston prevailed 40-17 over the Blue Devils.
    Charleston has appeared in the 3A state championship game two out of the last three years, making the team one of the premiere programs in the state; and prompting many teams in conference to  compare themselves to the Tigers to see where their team stands after playing them.
    “You really have to give a lot of credit to Charleston for physically man handling us at times throughout the game,”said Head Coach Brad Embry after the contest.
    With starters Derrick Brady out with a torn ACL and MCL, Rob Mitchell out with a torn ACL, and Austin McClusky out with a concussion, the Blue Devils had to swap a lot of players around.
    “When you have to move guys around to make-up for players being out, thinking is not a good thing on the field, reacting is,” Embry added.
    Getting off to a fast start and scoring first is what Water Valley needed to begin the game with, instead, they went three and out on their first possession. Punting it away and playing the war of field position was the strategy, but Charleston had a good run back from their punt returner and set the Tigers up on Water Valley’s own 30-yard line.  A few plays later one of Charleston’s many talented running backs reached the end zone for the first score of the night.
    On the Blue Devil’s next possession, the drive looked promising at first as Brandon Bounds broke out of a gang of would be tacklers to rush for 22 yards up the field. The drive stalled and Water Valley had to punt.  Exactly three plays later, the wrecking crew defense caused Charleston to fumble the ball and the Blue Devils recovered.               With Charleston effectively covering the pass to this point in the game, Coach Embry went with Kirkland Horton as quarterback, and Water Valley marched down the field for their first score of the game, 7-7.
    Even though several starters were out this week, “younger players put forth their best effort” according to Coach Embry, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Charleston offense, which scored for the second time of the night making the score 14-7 with 5:10 left in the first.
    Charleston went on to score three more unanswered touchdowns before Alex Robles put up three points with a 36 yard field goal to make the score 27-10 going in at the half.
    After the half, the Blue Devil players were fired up and held their own with the Tigers the first series of plays forcing a punt, but the Blue Devils continued to struggle offensively and they were forced to punt as well.  After a decent return by the Charleston special team, the Tigers were soon set up with first and goal and a couple of plays later scored to make the score 33-10.
    The Tigers and the Blue Devils went on to score one more touchdown a piece on the night making the final score 40-17.  This game is the first of six division games this season.
    This week the Blue Devils will try to bounce back when they travel to Holly Springs (4-3) to take on another division 2-3A opponent – a win needed to start the path for a chance to compete in the play-offs in November.

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