Walla Walla High School’s football team will cross the state line Friday night to Hermiston, Ore., for its next Mid-Columbia Conference clash.

Coming off their second straight loss last week, the Blue Devils (1-2 record) will take on a Hermiston team hungry for its first win.

They will go at each other on Kennison Field starting at 7 p.m.

“This is no different than any other game we’ve played,” Blue Devils coach Greg Lupfer said. “(Hermiston) is not an 0-3 team. They’re a really good football team, one that’s bigger than us on the line. We’ll be the smaller team on the line, and that’s scary.

“But I like our game plan,” Lupfer said. “We’ve just got to go execute it.”

Last season, as Hermiston introduced itself to the MCC a year after winning the state championship in Oregon, the Bulldogs compiled a 5-3 record that included a 42-7 rout of Wa-Hi at Borleske Stadium.

But the 2019 Bulldogs have seen their season get off to a stumbling start.

The Hermiston defense ranks eighth among the nine MCC teams after three weeks, and the offense was seventh.

Hermiston has lost at Pasco, 27-20, to Richland at home, 28-14, and then at Kennewick, 28-17.

But Kennewick only led, 14-11, after three quarters last week.

Hermiston actually had the biggest play of the game with quarterback Sam Schwirse and receiver Garrett Walchli hooking up on a 78-yard touchdown pass with about three minutes left to play before their rally fell short.

Walchli finished with 108 yards on six receptions, while Schwirse had 183 yards on 18-of-22 passing.

Daniel Faaeteete led the Bulldog running game with 51 yards on 17 carries, giving him a team-high 159 for the season on 45 carries.

“They’re a good team,” Lupfer said. “They’re real big upfront, both the offensive line and the defensive line. They play great defense. They’ve got a real good tail back. 

“I really expect them to line up and try to run the ball on us and do what Chiawana did against us,” Lupfer said. “I think they’re going to want to hammer it down our throats, and they’re at doing what they want to do.”

The Blue Devil defense had its hands full last week in the 41-13 loss to Chiawana.

But Lupfer looks for his team to bounce back.

“We’re looking pretty good,” Lupfer said. “We get Joe Terry and Ryan Moore back. Not having those two last week really hurt us, so it’s going to be good for us.”

Now a third of the way through this season, Lupfer says the Blue Devils have put themselves in good position.

“The kids still want to win,” Lupfer said. “They’ve done everything we’ve asked of them. They come in on Saturday morning and lift. And they’ve been doing that this whole season.”

Wa-Hi also had one win through the first three games last year on its way to a 2-8 season, but Lupfer maintains a positive outlook for the rest of this season.

“There’s still a lot of football to be played,” Lupfer said. “We’re going to keep improving every week, with that ultimate goal of making this program a perennial powerhouse. 

“The kids always want to win,” Lupfer said. “That (28-25) loss at Hanford still kinda hurts because we’re that close to being 2-1. People can look at our record however they want, but if they come on out and actually watch us play, I really think they’ll have a different opinion.

“Our kids are still very excited to play the game,” Lupfer said. “We’ve just got to be able to execute and not turn the ball over. The team is healthy. They’re still going into every game with confidence. And they’ll be excited to play on Friday.”

Hector writes stories about local sports, helps produce the daily section and updates the web site. A lifelong sports nut having grown up in Maryland, he joined the U-B with more than 15 years experience in journalism.