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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Diezel Wilkinson dazzles, East Valley earns first league win over North Central 41-21

Whether it was outjumping a defensive back for a touchdown catch, running over would-be tacklers as a running back or knocking ball carriers backward as a defensive back, East Valley’s Diezel Wilkinson was clearly the best athlete on the field Thursday.

It’s a wonder Knights coach Adam Fisher resisted giving Wilkinson the ball on every play.

“He’s got to last the season, right?” Fisher said.

Wilkinson finished with six catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns, and the visiting Knights beat North Central 41-21 at ONE Spokane Stadium for their first Greater Spokane League 2A win of the season.

“Just capitalizing on the opportunities that I had,” Wilkinson said of his workload. “But I mean, I’m sure it gets tempting to feed me the rock.”

EV’s Titan Nesbitt carried 16 times for 127 yards and three scores .

“Titan has really progressed over the season,” Fisher said. “He has done a nice job of just running hard, running to the proper area, reading his blocks better each week and protecting the football.”

“We spread the ball around pretty good,” Wilkinson said. ” I think we played super good as a team. We’re just finally starting to trust each other a little bit more on the field.”

Fisher, the longtime EV coach who took the past five years off to spend time with family, is in his first year back rebuilding the program.

“Starting a program obviously here, and to be able to get a win is obviously huge,” Fisher said. “It doesn’t matter how or who because when you’re starting new, they’re a little tougher to come by.”

Wilkinson added 18 yards on three carries and had a dozen tackles on defense.

“Last year he didn’t play the last three or four games,” Fisher said of Wilkerson, who is entertaining several Big Sky offers. “So, he needs to play a whole season. Anytime you have a guy who’s, you know, obviously gifted, you want to make sure that you’re strategic about how you go about that process.”

NC sophomore quarterback Trevelle Jones missed the game due to injury. The Wolfpack lost three fumbles in the red zone, had a field-goal attempt blocked and a kickoff return for a score called back due to a penalty.

“We understand – we’ve been on the other end of that,” Fisher said. “This is our third league game and there’s times we were hanging in but then you (lose the ball). That just comes with maturity about protecting the football and that’s the most important thing in football: turnover margin. It’s the most important stat.”

East Valley (2-4, 1-2) juggled the short opening kickoff but recovered at its 42. A pair of first downs moved it into the red zone. On first down from the 19, sophomore QB Tarin Fields took a delayed draw up the middle, broke a linebacker’s tackle and scored for a 7-0 lead.

North Central (0-6, 0-4) had a bad exchange and East Valley fell on the loose ball at the Wolfpack 42.

On the next play, Nesbitt went off-tackle and down the left sideline for a touchdown and 14-0 lead with just more than 5 minutes left in the first quarter.

NC’s Tommy Elliot found Trey Workman on a 14-yard screen play, then carried for 18 into East Valley territory. Workman went off-tackle for first-and-goal from the 6, but on second down another mishandled handoff hit the turf and EV’s Miguel Rodriguez recovered at the 7.

On the next play, Fields tried to go to Wilkinson deep, but Nick Elliott went high for an interception at the EV 33. On fourth-and-goal from the 9, Biru Thang attempted a 26-yard field goal, but it was blocked and EV took over at its 12.

Wilkinson had a 73-yard touchdown run wiped out to a penalty but outjumped a defensive back for a 23-yard gain to the NC 46. He took a catch-and-run to the NC 8, then Nesbitt carried would-be tacklers in from there for a 21-yard touchdown.

NC sophomore Nick Elliott returned the kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown, but it was brought back on a penalty. A three-and-out and short punt gave EV the ball at the Wolfpack 38 with 90 seconds left in the half.

Fields scrambled and went for 13 yards to the 26. With 2 seconds left, Fields tossed it up for grabs in the end zone and Wilkinson outjumped two defenders for the fourth Knights touchdown.

“I’m constantly telling (Fields), I have a 42-inch vertical, give me a shot to go the ball,” Wilkinson said. “I’m constantly trying to give him some reassurance that he can throw me the ball up in the air and I’ll go make a play.”

Nick Elliott returned the second-half kick to the East Valley 37, then Tommy Elliott connected with Josiah Dunn for 26 yards to the EV 10.

But on second-and-goal the Wolfpack fumbled for the third time in the red zone and Rodriguez scooped it and returned it out to the 40. Eight plays later, Nesbitt scored from the 3 to make it 35-0.

North Central finally got on the board with an eight-play, 64-yard drive culminated by Tommy Elliott’s 23-yard scoring run.

But East Valley – and Wilkinson – answered. Fields hit his receiver on a slant and Wilkinson spun out of a tackle and turned on his speed, going 53 yards for the score. The extra point was blocked, and the Knights went up 41-7.

“I think with the new coaching staff, we’re all just trying to become one big family,” Wilkinson said. “It’s taken a little bit of time, but I think this win will finally click it together.”