Canto to lead Whittell running game
Whittell High’s football team has one shot at the playoffs, and that shot won’t come today, when the Warriors host the Silver Sage Night Hawks.
It will happen at home Nov. 2, when Whittell faces Incline during its last regular-season game.
Silver Sage isn’t a useless game, though. The Warriors, who haven’t won since defeating Independence 41-0 five games ago, need to rack up a confidence booster. They also need to get a surprisingly large group of players more acquainted with new positions.
Brian Jones went from defensive end to defensive back, Parker Fox went from linebacker to defensive end and Casey Canto went from nose guard to fullback.
Moreover, freshmen David Sabastina and James Barnard moved from special teams to defense and Brian Barnard may see time at fullback.
The changes are the result of a small team that has gotten smaller with a slew of injuries.
Senior running back Alex Swearingen is still out with a dislocated shoulder. Sophomore running back Christian Anton is still out from a concussion suffered against Hawthorne.
Warrior coach Mike Evans said Matt Johnson’s back hasn’t got a whole lot better and Jake Summers has gone from strep throat to food poisoning.
You could say Whittell has been forced to to make a mid-season facelift.
However, judging by how the team played against Battle Mountain, it seems to be working.
Canto amassed 61 yards on 22 carries against one of the best teams in the league and the Warrior defensive line still functioned without him.
The offensive line held the Longhorns to two sacks, the same number of Warrior sacks. Quarterback Nick Lowe, who felt pressured in the Hawthorne game, amassed 120 yards on eight completions and made two touchdown passes.
He surpassed his last 103 -yard performance against Hawthorne, a team that hardly compares with Battle Mountain.
“No doubt, if we played that well against Hawthorne it would have been a three-touchdown game,” Evans said.
Evans added that having Canto run the ball adds a new dimension to Whittell’s offense and defense.
“It gives Jake and Alex a rest and we get that much more power running the ball,” Evans said. “If we can give them a rest, we’ll be fresher at defense.”
Evans said that Canto is a lot faster than people think, and that his forward lead gives him a lot of punch.
“I realized the running backs do a lot of unnecessary (complaining),” Canto said of his transition from hole maker to hole breaker.
Canto said he has an edge running the ball because he knows what the line is trying to do and when they’re going to do it.
He’s not the kind of runner to make sharp cuts, though. He’s still likes making the hits, not avoiding them.
“If I drop my shoulder, I can get 2-3 yards that I would normally get if I was juking,” Canto said.
Silver Sage, as a first-year school, isn’t competing in the Northern 2A league yet, but they are 0-5 overall.
Whittell is 1-4 in league and 2-5 overall.
— Darin Olde can be reached at email@example.com or by calling (530) 542-8008.
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