Water Valley enters the season looking to climb to the top of 3A
Published 6:00 am Friday, August 26, 2022
Water Valley lost a heartbreaker to end their season last year as they were upset at home in the first round of playoffs by Aberdeen. The Blue Devils hope to use the perfect mix of veteran guys and youth to spring them back to the top of the region and the state.
Most coaches use the summer to fine-tune their teams and find out what they can and cannot do. Water Valley coach Brad Embry is excited about the production his team has made this summer. “We had a good productive summer. We hit the weight room hard, made gains, and had a good 7-on-7 season this summer. The 7-on-7 season is what it is; it helped us work on some things. You know a lot of people put too much emphasis on it, but The 7-on-7 season helped us get some work done,” said Embry.
The Blue Devils are a veteran-led team this year, with 15 seniors on their roster this season. “We are a veteran team this season with a lot of upperclassmen starting both ways. I am excited to watch them play this season and how they mix with the underclassmen and lead this team.
The key to the Blue Devils season will be how the underclassmen grow as the season progresses. “We have some really good sophomores and a few juniors that we are excited about and will get a chance to play this season but need to learn how to adapt and condition themselves to play on both sides of the ball,” said Embry.
The offense is going to be led by senior quarterback CJ Telford. During his junior campaign, Telford passed for 1,246 yards last season with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. “Telford has had a great summer. I asked a lot of him last year and asked him to take care of the ball, and I am going to ask him to do the same this year, said Embry.”
The Blue Devils return both of their leading rushers from last year in Jaden Morgan and Telford. Morgan ran for 822 yards last season and 10 touchdowns, while Telford ran for 622 yards and 10 touchdowns. Each player recorded one fumble on the season. They also return two running backs that will help Water Valley running back committee approach in DJ Lidell and Brayden Burford. “As a smaller school, we depend on players playing both ways, and with Jaden doing that, we need to be able to give him a breather throughout the season,” said Embry.
The leading returning receivers are Saveon Freeman and Morgan. Freeman caught 12 passes last year for 222 yards and one touchdown, and Morgan had five receptions for 101 yards.
One player that has made huge gains this summer that has caught Brad Embry’s eye this summer is senior Saveon Freeman. “Saveon has really bought into strength and conditioning this summer and made some changes to his body to get ready to play football at a high level. He made some big plays this summer in 7 on 7. When we participated in the Mississippi State camp, he caught at least ten touchdowns overall are games in the tournament against tough competition,” said Embry.
The Blue Devil defense returns the majority of their defense from last year. Players to keep an eye on this year on the defensive side of the ball are Jamerious Jenkins, Ky Cooke, Will Stanford, and Walker Tedford.
One area that is unknown for the first time in a while is the kicking game. The Blue Devils will have to replace a familiar face in the kicking game after Jon Surrette graduated. Last year Surrette converted 30 of 33 extra point attempts and went 1 for 2 on field goals.
The Blue Devils will open the regular season on Friday as they host Independence.