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Water Valley routs Independence to clinch first round home game

WATER VALLEY — Brad Embry knew the previous two seasons would provide plenty of growing pains by playing so many freshman and sophomores out of necessity. Now, those freshman and sophomores are juniors and seniors and have Water Valley back to playing championship-caliber football.

The Blue Devils defeated Independence 55-7 for yet another dominant performance at Blue Devil Stadium on Friday.

The win secures a first round home game in the MHSAA Class 3A playoffs for the Blue Devils (9-1, 4-0 2-3A), who continue to have their best year since going 10-1 in 2013. The win also sets up a showdown with North Panola for the region title in Sardis next week.

“All around good game,” Embry said. “They’ve played so much football that they’re at a higher level than sometimes when you get maybe some juniors or seniors whose first year to start. You just kind of bide your time and follow your program and you do things right. It’s paying off.”

After their 41-0 win at Coahoma AHS last week the Blue Devil defense was not proud of their performance and told the coaches they did not want their usual reward of pizza when shutting out an opponent.

They were unable to hold Independence (4-6, 1-3) to a zero on the scoreboard, but Water Valley may want pizza anyway. The Blue Devils had three defensive touchdowns in the first half off of fumbles and stifled Independence’s offense.

Nearly all of the Wildcats’ plays in the game resulted in negative yardage and they crossed midfield only twice in the game. In the first half Independence finally managed to get into Water Valley territory with a minute left in the second quarter when getting to the Blue Devil 49-yard line.

“Those guys, they do the little things right,” Embry said of his defense. “When I say little things I mean during the week. You do the little things right and on Friday night when you’re supposed to be in a gap, that’s just what you do. It’s ingrained in you to be where you’re supposed to be, do your job and be accountable to your teammates.”

Javarious Benson, Damicah Hervey and Nate Murphy all had scoop-and-scores for the Blue Devil defense. Hervey and Nate’s fumble recoveries came on back-to-back plays near the end of the first half.

Water Valley’s offense did not have to worry about putting a lot of points up with the play of the defense, but they had success when called upon.

Tay Rucker, Jacob Truss and Dre McCray all scored rushing touchdowns. Truss finished with two touchdowns on the ground. Quarterback Blayne Clark also threw for a touchdown, hitting Bud Tolbert on a 31-yard pass on 4 & 12 late in the second quarter.

“We couldn’t get the ball, defense keeps scoring,” Embry said. “I’m OK with that.”