One thing that jumped out at first-year Walla Walla coach Greg Lupfer when he saw Hermiston on film, was the size of its players.
“They are gigantic up front,” he said. “Their tailback (Daniel Faaettete) is 6-foot, 220. We are not that big. The size difference they have on us, they are well-coached, and they will give us some problems.”
The Blue Devils (1-2 MCC) will be at Hermiston (0-3 MCC) on Friday for a Mid-Columbia Conference game.
Lupfer, who has seen the like of Southridge, Hanford and Chiawana this season, still is adjusting to the play of the MCC.
“This is a very competitive league, for sure,” Lupfer said. “I didn’t know exactly what to expect. I knew Chiawana would be tough, but I didn’t know about the others. Hermiston is probably the best 3A team in our league. They are a good team, regardless of what their record says.”
The Bulldogs, still looking for their first win, are hoping to get on track Friday night.
“In a perfect world, everyone is healthy and everyone is playing,” Hermiston coach David Faaeteete said.
The Bulldogs have been without running back Guiomar Garay, who was hurt the first week against Pasco. Faaeteete said he expects him to play this week. Hermiston also is without defensive lineman Sean Stewart, who went out against Richland and missed last week’s game. He is under concussion protocol.
Injuries aside, Faaeteete likes the improvements his team has made over the first three weeks of the season
“There is improvement,” he said. “We have made big strides, we are just coming up short. For the most part, the kids are competing, fighting and they don’t quit. Every possession, tackle, missed tackle, every inch of the field is important.”
The Blue Devils are rebuilding after losing the likes of lineman Patrick Utschinski, linebacker Jahmal Mangarero and receiver/defensive back Jared McAlvey to graduation.
Walla Walla has junior Ryan Martuscelli and sophomore Dash Sirmon sharing duties at quarterback. Sirmon placed sixth in the javelin at state as a freshman with a throw of 177 feet, 3 inches.
“Ryan is inexperienced, but he is a good competitor and he gets what we are trying to do,” Lupfer said. “Dash will get a couple of series here and there. He will be special, he just needs some games.”
Jakob Humphrey has been carrying the load at running back. The 5-9, 175-pound transfer from Idaho Falls, Idaho, has run for 249 yards and one touchdown this season.
“Jake has done really well and he is a big part of our offense,” Lupfer said. “We are young (eight seniors), but all of our kids are going to play hard.”
Friday also will be the first time this season the Blue Devils have played on turf. They have played at Fran Rish in Richland and twice at home. Both venues have a real grass playing surface.
“This will be our first time on turf,” Lupfer said. “That will be different for us. That is beautiful stadium.”