Longhorns sweep away Warriors
Only a deluge could have slowed the Battle Mountain High Longhorns on Saturday. Unfortunately for Whittell, the thundershowers didn’t roll into Zephyr Cove until after the Warriors absorbed a season-opening 44-6 beating.
A muddy field might have slowed the lightning-quick Longhorns, who twice scored on touchdowns of 65 yards or more.
“That’s our game plan. Look at the size of our backs, we have to get outside,” said Battle Mountain first-year coach Tim Knight. “They played tough, tough, tough defense, then we’d have a couple of lightning strikes. But they played us tough the whole way.”
Battle Mountain’s Timothy Plants broke a scoreless tie by turning a short pass into a 65-yard touchdown reception with 6:03 remaining in the first quarter.
“We couldn’t turn in any wide stuff until their guy was already gone. We’ve got to be able to turn it inside the hash marks,” said Whittell coach John Summers.
Summers, who was ending a six-year absence from the sidelines, was distraught in an empty Warrior locker room afterward.
“I didn’t see it being this bad. I thought we could play them pretty even,” Summers said. “I think we found out that we’re not in as good of condition as we thought we were. I had guys asking for rests toward the end of the game, and that ain’t going to happen here.”
Whittell senior running back Adrian Norman, who was nursing shoulder and back injuries while being consoled by classmates afterward, was obviously disappointed.
“It was the first-game follies. All we can do now is improve. I don’t think it can’t get worse,” said Norman, who led the Warriors with 54 rushing yards.
For the remainder of the first half, the Longhorns exploited the Warriors’ soft perimeter defense, with slant and out passes and sweeps.
Paul Ramsdell’s 10-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Brian Ellis and Brandon Schultz’s 20-yard sweep pushed the Longhorns ahead 21-0 with 6:38 left in the half.
“They need to work on getting their guys out on the sweep. We have a fast team this year, but they need to line their ends out a little wider and maybe bring up their defensive backs,” Schultz said.
However, Whittell wasn’t enthralled with being pancaked after an 0-9 season.
Hence, junior quarterback Trent Gordon and sophomore Luke Forvilly hooked up on a 65-yard post pattern, making the score 21-6 late in the second quarter.
“That’s one of our offensive objectives … to use those guys deep, because they are pretty quick. We just have to get Trent some time to throw. We had to roll him out almost the whole day,” Summers said.
But the Warriors had little time to enjoy the six.
After a clipping penalty pinned back the Longhorns on their 11, Ellis and Ramsdell connected on an 88-yard pass play to the Warrior 1. Norman, doubling as a defensive back, made a spectacular diving tackle at the 1 to delay the Longhorns’ score.
“You could quit real easily on a play like that, so you know some of them have some heart,” Summers said. “But there were times when I saw some guys just make one pop on a block and then stand up and watch. So we have some question marks as to who is hungry out there all the time.”
James Paice scored on the next play to cap the first-half scoring.
Whittell dominated the third quarter but came away empty after fumbling at the Battle Mountain 13 with 5:08 left.
Then the Warriors were on the verge of making it a two-touchdown game when Longhorns linebacker Mathews stepped into the passing lane and picked off Gordon, dashing 94 yards for a score.
“That was one that probably shouldn’t have been called. We got down there and both of our running backs were hurting, and we felt we could sneak that little flat pass into Forvilly,” Summers said.
Battle Mountain added a 31-yard Schultz field goal and a 4-yard touchdown run by David Chacon to close out the scoring.
There was some question whether Battle Mountain exceeded its scoring boundaries late in the game. Ellis, who passed for 247 yards and two touchdowns, never left the field, and the Longhorns passed several times late in the fourth quarter.
“The last time they were here we whipped them 42-10, so I’m sure they were just trying to even it up. However, when we beat them here we had our young guys in that whole last quarter. Eventually, that kind of stuff catches up to you,” Summers said.
Knight indicated that he didn’t have a choice regarding Ellis, and that he replaced linemen and running backs late in the fourth quarter.
“We don’t have a backup quarterback. It looked like we could have backed off a bit, but the thing is when you put those backups in, they’re all fighting for playing time, so when they go out there they’re going to do their absolute best,” he said.
Battle Mountain outgained Whittell 452 yards to 203, but Knight felt the Warriors were capable of making the score much closer.
“One thing that scared me throughout the game was those little passes they were running out into the flat. They dropped a lot of them. If they could have caught a couple more, they would have gained a little confidence, and it would have changed the complexion of the game,” Knight said.
Whittell will try to even its record on Saturday when Rite of Passage (1-1) comes to Zephyr Cove.
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