WENATCHEE — Wenatchee football coach Scott Devereaux didn’t see the intensity he was hoping for during Tuesday evening’s practice, a point of concern he planned to resolve.
Devereaux realizes the potential for upset tonight against Eastmont is very real and hopes to impart that message to his players, who have played in a series of tight-knit contests in the second round of Big Nine games.
“It’s hard to beat a team twice,” Devereaux said, “and I keep trying to explain that to them, but I don’t know if that’s sunk in yet.”
The Panthers (6-2 overall, 6-1 Big Nine) barrelled through the first stretch of league play with a 3-1 record and outscored opponents 167-64, including a 44-10 victory over the Wildcats in week four.
They’re 3-0 so far in the second go-through, but haven’t won a game by more than 10 points in that stretch.
Devereaux chalks that up to scouting.
“It’s tougher on offenses (later in the season) because I know me, being a defensive coach, I break down my opponent 25 different ways,” the 10th-year coach said. “Eastmont has every game film on us and we have every game film on them, so there’s not too many tricks.”
Eastmont (2-6, 1-6) doesn’t have a winning pedigree, but given its large store of film and bevy of talented playmakers, there’s reason to believe it is capable of pulling off a seismic upset.
Senior Wildcats back Brian Burt — who has 1,098 all-purpose yards this season — makes Devereaux nervous, both in the backfield and as a kick returner.
“Their kickoff return has been pretty solid and our kickoff coverage has been crap,” Devereaux said.
Carter Haehl can make plays too, and Devereaux expects Phillip Moore — who Devereaux said may be the fastest athlete at Eastmont — to be more of a factor in the week nine rematch.
And although Wenatchee has locked up a state berth, it needs to continue winning in order to lock up a Big Nine championship and a home playoff game in the first round.
Moses Lake (5-2 Big Nine) is just one game behind the Panthers, and Eisenhower (4-3 league) could still earn a postseason bid. Of course, there’s always the rivalry. The proximity and familiarity between these two squads makes this a big contest in itself.
The Wildcats aren’t fighting for postseason play anymore, but the thrill of upsetting a bitter rival is plenty motivation.
“From Eastmont’s perspective, this probably is their whole season,” Devereaux said. “If they can get a league win over us to finish the year off, their seniors are going be able to talk about it the rest of their lives.”
Wenatchee can’t overlook the Wildcats this evening, because there’s still plenty at stake. The rivalry aspect could be key in helping the Panthers avoid an upset.
“This game’s really important to us because it’s our rival,” said senior Isaiah Brandt-Sims, who leads the league with 953 rushing yards this season. “This is Battle of the Bridges right here, we have to win this game. I know some guys are feeling pretty confident, but we can’t be cocky for this game.”