SOAP LAKE — Deezy Bentley has had his nickname since birth.
Given by his mother, it just stuck. The nickname became an official middle name by eighth grade.
Bentley bounced around as a child. Born in Moses Lake, he went to Ephrata schools “for a while” before moving to Louisiana in sixth grade. Bentley returned to Washington his eighth-grade year and settled in Soap Lake. There, the wiry athlete has put together three years of quality play at wide receiver, resulting in all-league honors and 14 touchdowns.
His senior year, however, presents new challenges.
In a completely new league.
Without any shot at the playoffs.
“It’s like we’re in a league, but we’re not,” Bentley said. “We want to go all the way. We feel it this year, but at the same time we’re thinking about it as we’re just joining into another league because we had to drop. It’s nice just to actually play football for my last season and versus other teams, league or not, I feel like we have a good team.”
Despite the shifts in his senior season, Bentley is just eager to play. A football junkie, he became interested in the sport as a young boy and started playing in third grade.
“Sundays I would watch football all the time,” Bentley said. “Why not get into it?”
His favorite team is the hometown Seahawks, but he roots for the Ravens, too. Lamar Jackson, the speedster out of Louisville, is Bentley’s favorite player and also a source of inspiration. Especially in 8-man football, Bentley will have ample opportunity to mimic his favorite player in the open field.
“I try studying the quarterbacks that have a nice run-game because it’s always nice to be able to throw, but it’s also nice to be deadly on your feet,” he said. “And then Tom Brady, I look at him for passing because I figure he’s a nice passer.”
Bentley was given a primer of the 8-man game last season as Soap Lake adjusted its numbers to play — and beat — Yakama Tribal and Mary Walker.
“It’s different,” he said. “Three less men on the field there’s way more green to see now, but it’ll be different because I’ve played 11-man most of my life. I’ve only played a handful of 8-man games, but they’ve all been good.”
As for the position change, Bentley knew the routes from his three years at wide receiver. It was the nuances of the position that took the most time to become accustomed to.
“It wasn’t a lot because after receiver for three years you know the plays and you know what people have to do,” Bentley said. “The learning curve, it’s difficult because you’ve got to figure out how to get everyone to understand you and how you can be in the huddle and if people are talking you’ve got to hush them down. That was about the only difficult learning curve for me and being able to call the plays, remember each play, which way to turn, what the pitch is and where to throw to. Otherwise, it all felt like it came natural.”
The move to 8-man doesn’t necessarily mean a cushier schedule. Soap Lake will host reigning 1B state champion Odessa on Oct. 4 and travel to state runner-up Almira/Coulee-Hartline on Nov. 8. Win or lose, Bentley wants his team to make an impression on the elite of the division.
“All games are good battles, so I just want to see how it goes because I’ve heard of them blowing people out by 80 (points),” he said. “I just want to be that team where they’re like, ‘Man, Soap Lake right there, that’s a fighting team.”
The goal for most high school football teams is to at least make the state tournament, some have aspirations of a deep postseason run toward a championship. The postseason was out of the question before Soap Lake took its first snap.
But success isn’t only about the win-loss record or the total stats at the end of the season.
“I want to measure it about how we come close as a family,” Bentley said. “How no matter what, through the wins and losses, how we always had each other’s backs and if one person’s head’s down we pick another person’s head up and we keep going. Wins and losses, those get marked up all the time, but you build a family through battle. That’s how I want it. That’s how I know we did good is if we come close as a family.”