Good times are rolling at Whittell
Times are changing for athletes at Whittell High School.
A year ago, the Warriors were wiping away the sweat and tears from their third straight losing season in football, their customary state semifinal exit in soccer and their ninth straight appearance without a championship in the state volleyball tournament.
But that was when the Warriors were mixing it up with the big boys and girls of the Nevada 3A. In a long overdue move, the Warriors dropped to the 2A ranks this fall and started competing with schools with similar student enrollments.
Consequently, the Warriors are enjoying success that they haven’t experienced since the late 1980s when the school participated at the 1A level. At that time the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association only offered three levels of competition.
“The last state championship team was when Gary Lundergreen coached the football team in 1988, and that’s because we’ve been in the 3A,” said Whittell Athletic Director Larry Reilly.
On Saturday, the Warriors broke through with their first girls state soccer championship, and almost came away with two, but the boys lost a tough 2-1 finale to Incline.
The way it’s going Whittell may have to build a second gym to accommodate a bevy of championship banners Reilly will have to order. The next one could come as early as Saturday as Northern Nevada 2A zone champion Whittell goes for the school’s first state volleyball title since it won back-to-back championships in 1985-86.
“(Monday) I told the girls soccer team to choose three spots on the wall for banners,” said Reilly, whose girls strikers won state, were co-champions in division play and state academic champions. “They’re really enthusiastic. They wore their state medals and team sweats to school (Monday), and obviously it was a big deal, and it should be a big deal.”
The move to the enrollment friendly 2A has helped the Warrior football team the most. After three frustrating seasons, which included a 21-game losing streak, the Warriors made the playoffs for the first time since 1996. Even though they lost 34-7 to Carlin in the state quarterfinals Saturday, the Warriors were stacked with underclassmen, meaning the future looks fantastic.
“Actually it’s where we belonged,” said Reilly, who filled in as the football coach this fall. “When we were in the 3A we were probably the second-smallest school. We were playing schools four and five times bigger than us.
That’s one of the reasons we went with the move. The negative is the additional travel.”
Where the longest road trip used to be to one-hour sojourns to Reno, now it’s day-consuming visits to Lovelock, Carlin and West Wendover.
Now, Reilly will spend the postseasons ordering championship banners.
“I look for us to be competitive in any of our sports,” Reilly said. “I look for our basketball teams to at least make the division playoffs and from there we’ll see what happens.”
Vikings anxious to play McQueen
The Vikings haven’t beaten McQueen in football since the 1991 playoffs, and they’re looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead of them Friday in Reno.
“This will be a lot of fun,” said Jaureguito of playing unbeaten McQueen. “I’ve seen them on film, but I haven’t seen them play, so I can’t give you an honest estimation one way or another. I just know we have to be on the top of our game and execute offensively, defensively and on special teams because they are very disciplined.”
Jaureguito’s players shouldn’t need one of their coach’s patented inspirational speeches to get fired up either.
“We’re really excited,” said linebacker Chas Tanner. “We seniors have never played McQueen, and we want to know what all the hype is about. And if there’s any team to beat McQueen, it’s our team. We’ll have to play a lot better, work out the kinks this week and play at our peak and as one Friday night.”
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