First win of the season in Warriors’ grasp |

First win of the season in Warriors’ grasp

Joe Proudman

Joe Proudman / Tahoe Daily Tribune

By Joe Proudman

Whittell was down to 11 players on the last play of the game against a very good Battle Mountain on Saturday. This week they face a winless Silver Stage team and add junior standout Austin Buyak to the lineup, who missed the first five games of the season for Whittell.

“I think right now we might be at 16 (players),” said head coach Jeff Jones. “We got a nice surprise that Austin Buyak will be back.”

In Saturday’s loss to Battle Mountain it came down to a game of numbers, and Whittell just didn’t have them. The Warriors were faced with a season-low number of players, dressing 14 players, with two having to leave the games with injuries. On the last play, one player went down and had to come out of the game for the last play, leaving them with 11.

Even with the low numbers, Whittell struck first six minutes into the first quarter with a Ty Sprock 15-yard touchdown run. But the Longhorns quickly fought back. Battle Mountain had two passing touchdowns in the first half. Daniel Itza connected with Kyle Bryant for a 77-yard touchdown pass and Joey Cook for a 49-yard touchdown pass. Hank Filippini had a rushing touchdown for the Longhorns. Filippini fumbled at the one yard line, but recovered in the endzone. Battle mountain had their first PAT blocked and failed to convert a two-point conversion.

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The second half saw two more touchdown passes from Itza to put the Longhorns up 32-7. Whittell still hung in the game though, with Sprock scoring for a second time and a block punt by Kody Dangtongdee led to a Hughston Norton touchdown to make it 32-19, which was the final score.

This weekend the Warriors faces a Silver Stage team that hasn’t performed very well this season. Both teams have yet to win ball game this year. But looking at Whittell’s schedule versus Silver Stage’s, the Warriors clearly have had the rougher path and are heading into Saturday’s match in Silver Springs as a chance to come away with their first win of the season.

The independent Silver Stage is 0-4 on the year, with a 42-0 loss to Incline and a 6-2 loss to North Tahoe. They’ve been out-scored by opponents 165-8 this season and haven’t played a game since Sept. 16.

The Warriors will head into the Nighthawks homecoming game without seeing any film or play from them.

“We’ll go in there with out base offense and some plays and see what they come out with,” said Jones. “They’ve been struggling a bit with some teams.”

With Buyak back for the Warriors, it adds another dimension to the offense. The junior was slated to start at quarterback this year, but separated his shoulder during the Warriors scrimmage at the beginning of the year. The injury forced senior Shawn Mand into the role, who will get the start this week at quarterback as Buyak adjusts to playing again, though he’ll probably see some time under center.

“I just want to get his feet under him,” Jones said. “Passing game wise, I don’t thing he’s there.

“And I’m sure throwing the football, his shoulder is a little rusty.”

With the 6-foot-4-inch 215-pound Buyak back, Jones said Mand will play various positions including tight end and running back. A formation that the Warriors can bring back is one that has Buyak, Norton and Mand in the backfield together, offering three possible ball carriers.

“Shawn is versatile enough to play three or four positions,” he said. “It gives us a lot more versatility on offense with what we can do.”