Whittell football runs past Loyalton 64-0 in season opener, delivers dominant performance
ZEPHYR COVE — The Whittell football team made supremacy evident early on in its season opener Friday, Sept. 2. The Warriors scored five touchdowns in the first 10 minutes en route to a 64-0 home victory over Loyalton (Calif.) that kicked off their 2016 campaign in dominant fashion.
“It’s a great way to start — a shutout, scoring points and getting everybody involved,” Warriors coach Phil Bryant said. “We feel good about it, but we feel that we have a lot of room to grow.”
Whittell (1-0) put points on the board before its offense stepped on the field Friday night. After a Loyalton three-and-out on the game’s opening drive, junior Corey Huber returned a punt 60 yards down the home sideline for a touchdown — that and a two-point conversion made it 8-0 with 10:02 left in the opening frame.
“The only way you can get that is with the blocks,” Huber said. “We’ve worked on it every day in practice and the return team is great — they know how to pick up the blocks.”
The Warriors scored four more times in the first quarter to take a 36-0 lead, touchdown drives that all spanned two plays or less. Senior quarterback Dismas Womack scored on a 53-yard run and threw a 22-yard pass to junior Nic Buchholz, Huber found the end zone with a 45-yard run, and sophomore Dalton Warswick rumbled for a 38-yard score.
“We figured if we got our power running game in, everything else would flow through,” Womack said.
In the second quarter, Whittell scored twice more to take a 48-0 lead into halftime. Sophomore quarterback Trent Dingman faked an option pitch and scored on an 18-yard run with 9:55 left in the half and Warswick punched it in from 2 yards out with just less than four minutes to play in the second quarter.
Whittell used its speed to dominate Loyalton (0-2) from the outset Friday night, and the contest was played with a running clock from late in the first quarter. The Warriors scored on all six of their first-half possessions while pitching a shutout.
“We have a lot of speed with everyone,” Huber said. “We’re probably one of the fastest teams in the state.”
The Warriors opened the second half by marching 85 yards in six plays, extending their lead to 56-0 on a 10-yard run from Huber and two-point conversion. The last four plays of the possession featured direct snaps with running from Huber, Womack and Warswick.
In the fourth quarter, junior Caleb Moretti punctuated the win with a 55-yard touchdown run that featured numerous broken tackles before he reversed field and ran past the Loyalton defense. That score followed by a successful two-point conversion made it 64-0 with 5:54 to play.
Womack intercepted a deflected pass on the next play to squash the Grizzlies’ last chance to score. The Warriors held Loyalton to 82 yards — including minus-3 in the second half — and pitched a season-opening shutout for the second straight year.
“If we execute, we’re the best team in our league,” Huber said. “Tonight we executed, and it turned out how we wanted.”
In his first game at quarterback, Womack had 35 yards and a touchdown through the air to go along with 80 yards and a score on the ground. Huber ran for a game-high 84 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries, Warswick finished with 62 yards rushing and two scores, and Moretti added 58 yards and a touchdown.
“It’s a lot different than anything else,” Womack said about his new position. “You have to really be sharp and know what you’re going to do on the play before it’s even called — and know the job of everyone on the field.“
For Loyalton, quarterback Logan Gavin finished 7-for-21 with 67 yards and an interception. As part of a dominant defensive performance from the Warriors, junior Connor Huber had a fumble recovery and a sack, and junior Genaro Mena recovered a fumble.
“Defensively we were solid,” Bryant said. “They didn’t really beat us on the perimeter, and really didn’t do much that hurt us.”
Whittell returns to action Friday, Sept. 9, at Eureka (Nev.) (1-1), a playoff team from a year ago. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.