• 66°

Water Valley focusing on themselves, ‘very athletic’ Eupora

In the opening week of any season, it is hard for a team to be able to fully prepare for its first opponent. Not much is known and with each team being different with each passing season, scouting reports from a year ago are sometimes fruitless efforts.

That is the approach Water Valley has always taken to start a year, and head coach Brad Embry is not changing anything up this season.

The Blue Devils travel to Eupora on Friday  to start their 2016 campaign. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Eupora High School. The game can be heard locally on 105.5 FM.

“Obviously you got to do some getting ready for Eupora, but you’re still at a point where you’re trying to become fundamentally sound,” Embry said. “You do that year-round but moreso at the beginning of the year. We’ve got to do the little things right. I think we’re a talented group, but we’re young and inexperienced.”

Embry noted poor execution of fundamentals is what aided in their loss to Ripley in last week’s weather-shortened jamboree.

Water Valley opened up last season against the Eagles, falling 14-7. It was a low-scoring affair with both teams finding the end zone in the opening quarter but then shut out until Eupora hit paydirt for the winning score in the third quarter.

Eagles quarterback Tanner Knight went 4-for-9 for 48 yards. Both Eupora scores came on the ground.

Same but different
Water Valley has two quarters of film from Eupora’s jamboree last week that has helped the Blue Devils see what the Eagles have improved on and what stayed the same from a year ago.

“I’m very impressed with (Eupora’s) skill kids,” Embry said. “They made some big gains in the passing game. (Knight) made some nice throws. It looks like from two quarters of tendencies that they’re going to work hard running the ball.”

Eupora lost its top rusher in Victor Goldman (610 yards) to graduation but returns three players who rushed for more than 200 yards each.

In last year’s meeting, Ty Varner and Kirkland Horton split quarterback duties for the Blue Devils. Varner had most of the workload, but Horton was 3-for-3 for 87 yards and responsible for the lone touchdown.

Horton is no long on the Water Valley sideline, leaving Varner, who threw three interceptions in last year’s meeting, for his shot at redemption.

“(Eupora) is very athletic,” Embry said. (Head coach Stephen) Edwards and those guys do a good job. They’ve got good-sized kids at defensive tackle, and everyone else looks like they run. So speed on the field, and Eupora’s going to have a good football team on the field. That’s why we play them. We’re going to get better playing them. We don’t have a choice.”