Whittell faces long road against West Wendover
ZEPHYR COVE, Nev. – Last week the Warriors not only beat North Tahoe 39-26, they were able to fight back from a 20-7 deficit at the mid-way point of their homecoming game. This week, Whittell will face a hurdle before even stepping on the field, as they travel 434 miles on a school bus to face West Wendover on Saturday afternoon with a team that is banged up.
On Friday, after going into the half down by two scores, Warriors quarterback Austin Buyak capped a statement drive, that eluded to Whittell’s will to win that night, with a four yard touchdown. It wasn’t a stroll across the line though. Buyak took the snap from the 10 yard line, and with no intention of passing the ball, raced to towards pay dirt. As he crossed the 5 yard line, the big 6-4 200 pound senior was grabbed around the knees by a Lakers defensive back. Buyak stood there for a second trying to move with the defender wrapped around his legs before North Tahoe help arrived. Then, he simply began to reach for the end zone, using all of his reach and the tip of the ball to break the plane of the goal line to ignite Whittell’s comeback. A two-point conversion made it 20-15.
That was Buyak’s second TD of the night, and not his last. The Warriors defense held the Lakers to a three-and-out, which Whittell would turn into their own scoring drive. The highlight of the drive came in three plays, the least of which was Buyak’s 3 yard touchdown run, but a fourth-and-six 12-yard reception by Jake ‘Big Jake’ Williams. Hughston Norton rushed for a first down on third down after the reception to put the ball on the 3 yard line, leading to the score and 22-20 lead that the Warriors would hold on to.
This week, Whittell will have to overcome not only a long journey that has them traveling the day prior, but also injuries to several standouts including Shawn Mand, Buyak and senior Jake Williams, who is different from ‘Big Jake.’ Coach Jeff Jones referred to his team as “Club Med” after Wednesday’s practice, as several of his 16 players were injured. This Saturday’s match against West Wendover (2-6 overall, 2-5 in Northern 2A) will prove to be a tough one.
“Last year they gave us a pretty good game,” Jones said. “They came here and played smash mouth football.
“This year they seem to pass the ball a lot more.”
The passing-oriented Wolverines are coming off a big 64-0 win over Silver Stage last week. But prior to that had lost six straight games, including 21-14 loss to Incline in week six. They did beat North Tahoe 54-13 to start the season, but Jones was quick to point out that it was a much different Lakers team that they faced last Friday, as they were missing a lot of players to start the season. But that’s not to say West Wendover isn’t a challenge.
“They got a quarterback that’ll sling it out there and some receivers that are pretty decent,” Jones said. “I think our biggest strength will be if we can control the ball.”
It neither Mand or Buyak play on Saturday, both of who are game-time decisions, Norton will handle the duties under center, while Ty Sprock will move to running back.
“We told the kids, ‘We can get you in the right place, you just got to play.’ “
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