The first thing people notice about Davenport High School senior lineman Willie Waters is his size. At 6-foot-5, 300 pounds, he is arguably the biggest impact player in the WIAA Class 2B state football championships.
But for the Gorillas, Waters is much more than a big body. He’s quick on his feet, knows the game better than most and is a strong leader for eighth-ranked Davenport (9-1), which hosts ninth-ranked Toledo on Saturday in Moses Lake.
Waters leads a physical Davenport attack from a pulling guard position, where he’s also responsible for calling out pre-snap reads. His football acumen and familiarity with the system make him a perfect fit for that important job.
“He has that trust from coaches to make those calls,” Davenport coach Justin Young said. “He understands what we’re trying to do and how we do it.”
On defense, Waters usually lines up as a defensive end, where his size and skillset make him a tough stop.
“I’ve seen teams try to double team him … or run away from him,” Young said. “That’s usually all you can do.”
While Waters doesn’t have any college football teams knocking on his door yet, Young believes they’ll come soon enough.
Said Young: “I don’t see how you can overlook a kid that size and that athletic.”
Editor’s note: Here’s a game-by-game breakdown, including top individual performers, outlook and score prediction, of this weekend’s 2021 WIAA Class 2B football round-of-12 matchups.
Bracket breakdown: Surprises, snubs, top first round matchups
(Listen to the episode here, leave a review on Apple Podcasts and subscribe wherever you get podcasts)
NO. 11 BREWSTER BEARS (4-5) vs. NO. 6 COLUMBIA OF BURBANK COYOTES (9-0)
6 p.m. Friday at Columbia High School, Burbank
Statistical leaders: For Brewster – QB Reese Vassar (63-110, 844 yards, 10 TDs), RB Adaih Najera (158 carries, 922 yards, six TDs), RB Adaih Najera (27 catches, 326 yards, three TDs) and DL Arnie Arevalo (64 tackles). For Columbia – QB Michael Lenke (1,124 passing yards, 764 rushing yards, 33 TDs), RB Elijah Kinsey (1,319 yards, 16 TDs), Shawn Wilder (26 catches, 559 yards, eight TDs), Triston Frimodt (24 catches, 371 yards, 10 TDs)
What to watch for: After an 0-4 start to the season, the Brewster Bears are surging at the right time, but an undefeated and well-balanced Columbia side has 32 takeaways this season and is hungry for its first state win since 1985.
Pick: Columbia, 34-32.
NO. 10 FORKS SPARTANS (7-1) vs. NO. 7 GOLDENDALE TIMBERWOLVES (9-1)
1 p.m. Saturday at Barthlow Field, Goldendale
Statistical leaders: For Forks (thru five games) – QB Logan Olson (50-89, 744 yards, nine TDs), RB Nate Dahlgren (88 carries, 665 yards, eight TDs), WR Dalton Kilmer (26 catches, 471 yards, four TDs), DB Dalton Kilmer (36 tackles). For Goldendale – QB Kade Bomberger (105-157, 2,099 yards, 27 TDs), RB Caleb Smith (187 carries, 1,766 yards, 31 TDs), WR Austin Neil (29 catches, 709 yards, eight TDs).
What to watch for: This battle of similarly styled teams might be the best of the 2B first round. An exciting Timberwolves attack is hoping to give Goldendale its first-ever state victory, while Forks is hoping the 2B bracket is more favorable than the 1A tourneys of years past.
Pick: Goldendale, 35-28.
NO. 12 RIVER VIEW PANTHERS (8-2) vs. NO. 5 ONALASKA LOGGERS (4-5)
4 p.m. Saturday at Tiger Stadium, Centralia
Statistical leaders: For River View – QB Ajani Fornos (87-153, 1,180 yards, 21 TDs), RB Miguel Farias (190 carries, 1,606 yards, 17 TDs), WR Pio Guzman (43 catches, 617 yards, eight TDs), DB Zane Hickman (116 tackles). For Onalaska – FB Marshall Haight (165 carries, 1,260 yards, 17 TDs), HB/DB Gunnar Talley (38 carries, 400 yards, 10 TDs; six interceptions on defense), RB Kolby Mozingo (35 carries, 433 yards, five TDs).
What to watch for: It is a bit odd that the defending 2B champions are playing in this round. But even after a brutal schedule, they did not earn one of the top four byes. So they will have to prove it early against a tough River View team that boasts comparable size, especially up front.
Pick: Onalaska, 35-14.
NO. 9 TOLEDO RIVERHAWKS (9-2) vs. NO. 8 DAVENPORT GORILLAS (9-1)
Noon Saturday at Lions Field, Moses Lake
Statistical leaders: For Toledo – QB Wyatt Nef (550 passing yards, 935 rushing yards, 29 TDs), RB Justin Filla (1,155 yards, 14 TDs), FB Geoffrey Glass (905 yards, 13 TDs). For Davenport – Evan Gunning (22-33, 345 yards, TD), RB Marcus Delafield (152 carries, 1,025 yards, 12 TDs), RB Brenick Soliday (80 carries, 741 yards, 11 TDs), Sam Schneider (48 tackles).
What to watch for: Old-school football fans will love this game. Toledo and Davenport are two physical teams that like to pound the ball on the ground and stand tough defensively.
Pick: Toledo, 21-20.
(Featured photo by Deanna Burnette)