Silver Stage experiencing number issues like the Warriors used to |

Silver Stage experiencing number issues like the Warriors used to

Steve Yingling

Not long ago, the Whittell High School football program was saddled with the problem of low numbers. Now, other schools, including this week’s opponent – are dealing with that issue.

Silver Stage, which will host the Warriors on Saturday at noon, forfeited its Northern 2A game with North Tahoe last week because of a lack of players.

Due to the forfeit, Whittell coach David Atherton called the Silver Stage coach to verify that the game was still a go. Apparently it is. In fact, the game will serve as the Nighthawks’ homecoming game.

A slew of injuries reportedly led to the Nighthawks’ forfeit against North Tahoe. Silver Stage (0-4) had 18 or 19 players when it scrimmaged Whittell before the season, according to Atherton.

Whittell faced a more drastic numbers crunch in 2003 when the Warriors were forced to cancel their season. But Atherton has the program’s numbers on the rise as Whittell has been suiting up 29 players this season.

Despite the Nighthawks’ thin roster, Atherton isn’t taking anything for granted in this league encounter. Silver Stage scored 28 points against Rite of Passage two weeks ago and lost to Yerington 19-6.

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“Every game this season is a must-win situation to get to the playoffs,” Atherton said. “Even though we played better than them in our preseason scrimmage, it doesn’t guarantee a win.

“We enjoyed (our win over Incline) on Friday night and Saturday, and now it’s time to focus on Silver Stage.”

Whittell throttled Incline 47-0 – its first victory over the Highlanders in six years – last Friday to even its league and overall records at 2-2.

One of the goals for Atherton and the Warriors this week is to diversify their passing attack.

“I don’t want to go away from Rio (DeLucia), but we really need to get Jordan Morgan, Ian Allen and our tight end Cody Reed going,” he said.

Whittell may be without sophomore Austin Norton, who injured his collarbone in practice earlier this week.

“Last year, he was the smallest guy on our sideline, and the guy is all guts,” Atherton said. “He caught a slant against Incline, and it took four or five guys to bring him down.”

After the Warriors’ first shutout in years, Atherton said he would like his team to continue to flex their muscles on defense.

“Right now, we’re taking a lot of pride in our defense. We’re trying to shut out every team,” Atherton said. “We’re taking pride in being a good defense and good tacklers. I make fun of them in the film room if they miss a tackle.

“I like the attitude of the players like Nick Warner, who goes a mile a minute. It’s a kid like him that gets the defense fired up.”

It’s homecoming for South Tahoe, and the stakes couldn’t be any higher on Saturday for the Vikings.

After losing their Sierra League opener to Carson last week, the Vikings (0-4 overall, 0-1 league) would like to pick up their first league victory before upcoming road games at Bishop Manogue and Galena.

South Tahoe will welcome back three key players to its starting lineup – Chris Klug, Chris Eidam and Garrett Tinlin missed last week’s game, causing coach Chris Morgan and his staff to move players to different positions.

The return of Klug should open up Vikings’ offense and provide additional balance. Last week, quarterback Willy Ervin was 6 of 20 passing for 113 yards, with 67 coming on a scoring toss to Mike Burns. Jayvon Rich, Eric Taylor and Tyler Lastiri combined for 145 yards on the ground.

Wooster (1-3 overall) lost its division opener last week to Manogue 49-14.

The opening kickoff is at 1:30 p.m.