WATER VALLEY – The Water Valley Blue Devils (1-0) cranked up their 2021 season with a 34 – 0 shutout against longtime rival, Independence, in a powerful season-opener. The win will be a confidence-booster as they will face an even stronger rival from the same county at Bobby Clark Field Friday night. The Senatobia Warriors defeated the Blue Devils in the final game of regular season play last year and come to town as a 4-A school after moving up to the bigger division this season.
But first the blowout against Independence. It wasn’t a pretty performance for the Blue Devils during a night that was plagued with penalties, blown snaps and other miscues – but they got the job done. Fourteen-year head coach Brad Embry had warned the game would be testing grounds for his beloved Blue Devils after the scrimmage game a week earlier was canceled. He also warned of some strong offensive weapons on the Wildcat roster who could be difficult to contain.
The Blue Devils picked up their first points just seconds in the game with a 23-yard pick six by Dre McCray. The touchdown was set up with a Wildcat fumble on their first play of their first drive, giving the Blue Devils a short field. Unable to move the chains, the Blue Devils turned the ball over on downs. McCray snagged the pass as the Wildcats took to the air on the first play of their second possession.
Both teams would struggle as the clock ticked down in the remainder of the first quarter, but the Blue Devils opened the second quarter with a 47-yard touchdown run by signal caller C.J. Telford to go ahead 13-0. Both teams showed early-season jitters in the ensuing possessions.
Water Valley’s next opportunity to strike came as Independence was facing third and long and Will Sanford brought down the Wildcat’s quarterback for their first sack in the contest, forcing a punt from their endzone. The Blue Devil offense started in the red zone only 19 yards from the goal line before a pair of penalties pushed them back. A botched snap ended the drive as Telford was unable to get on the ball and the Wildcats were back on offense. Their drive would be one of the closest during the shutout as they were yards away from the red zone before the Blue Devils forced another turnover on downs at the 25 yard-line.
Blue Devil penalties would push them back on their next drive before Marion Morgan caught a sideline pass and marched 39 yards to put six more on the scoreboard. Surrette’s PAT sailed through the uprights to go ahead 20 – 0 with three minutes remaining the half.
The Wildcats found a little momentum moving the ball down the field before Jayden Morgan scooped up a fumble, giving his team a final opportunity to score in the waning minutes of the half. The drive ended with a Blue Devil fumble recovered by Independence with 15 ticks before the buzzer.
Independence started the second half with an unsuccessful onside kick, giving the Blue Devils the ball at the Wildcats’ 49 yard line. Jayden Morgan picked up 16 yards before penalties and high snaps forced the Blue Devils to punt for the first time in the night. Colby Lafayette dropped the ball right at the goal line and a botched attempt to haul it in by Independence put the ball in play. Brayden Buford recovered it in the endzone for the fourth touchdown of the night. Surrette sailed it through the uprights for his third consecutive successful PAT kick to put the Blue Devils up 27 – 0.
The Wildcats next drive failed to move the chains, forcing another punt that gave the Blue Devils their next possession of the half and consumed almost half of the third quarter. The drive continued in the fourth as Telford connected to Marion Morgan in the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown pass, extending the lead to 34 unanswered points in the final score of the game.
The Senatobia Warriors will be looking for their first win in the season Friday after commanding all four quarters against the Blue Devils last November. They took an early lead last year and closed the half 34 – 7. The only points Water Valley were able to put on the scoreboard last year came with a perfect strike from Telford to Marion Morgan. Many of last year’s players on the field against Senatobia in the 2020 will be back in action Friday, and you can bet Telford and his squad would love to send the Warriors home with a loss.