Warriors a step short of victory again
ZEPHYR COVE – For the second straight week, the Whittell High Warriors were in position to win a football game.
Frustrated for three and a half quarters by mental mistakes and few big plays, the Warriors struck quickly to pull within five points of the Independence Colts.
But like a week earlier, the young band of improving Warriors were unable to seize the elusive victory in a 21-8 Northern 2A loss to the Colts.
“They’re disappointed, and today I’m disappointed because we should have been right there at the end,” said Whittell coach John Summers. “They should have been trying to catch us at the end instead of vice versa. But then you have to stop and look at it and see that they are so young and inexperienced.”
Sophomore quarterback Roberto Concha-Foley set up Whittell’s only score by buying some extra passing time with a rollout near midfield. The added time enabled Concha-Foley to set his feet and deliver a strike on the fingertips of Casey Coates, who hauled in the 38-yard reception at the Independence 10.
Concha-Foley then pitched the pigskin to freshman Cody Nelson, who used every inch of the sideline to break the scoring plane just inside the pylon. Concha-Foley tacked on a two-point conversion, running behind Nick Warner, trimming Independence’s lead to 13-8 with 5 minutes, 54 seconds left.
“We were on track,” Concha-Foley said. “We just have to keep it up throughout the whole game and we would have won.”
The score whipped the Whittell crowd into a frenzy, sensing that this could be the day that the Warriors end a 23-game losing streak.
But Independence had other ideas.
With their postseason hopes in the balance, Colts’ coach Clark Davidson made a big-time switch in his backfield to protect his slim edge. Davidson moved mammoth tight end Stacy Randolph, who repeatedly tormented the Warriors by turning short catches into long runs, to fullback.
The 245-pound Randolph looked more like Jerome “The Bus” Bettis as he carried eight times for 38 yards in a time-consuming drive that started on the Independence 34.
Penalties have destroyed Whittell’s offensive and defensive momentum at times – and none more than the offside penalty the Warriors’ committed on fourth and a little more than five yards with 2:35 remaining. Quarterback Logan Lawson, who started the game at tailback, converted the fourth-down play with nearly five yards to spare, plowing ahead to the Warrior 20.
“It’s the mental things we have to get straightened out. The offsides things are just killing us now,” Summers said.
When Randolph finally plunged in from the 1 with 30.9 seconds left, the Warriors were left with little consolation following their 24th straight defeat.
“He’s an absolute stud for our team,” Davidson said. “Our idea was to give them something big to look at.
“When you start seeing the defensive front putting their hands on their knees and how tired they get and give them a big boy to tackle, then it’s a little more difficult for them.”
Lawson accounted for both of Independences previous scores. He returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown for the only score of the first half, and then rain in a 28-yard boot late in the third quarter for a 13-0 lead. Lawson also had a 65-yard punt return called back because of a penalty.
Whittell (0-7) will play at Battle Mountain, one of the state’s top 2A teams, on Friday night and close out its schedule by hosting Incline on Oct. 27. The Warriors aren’t about to concede an 0-9 season.
“It will be like all of the other games. We’re gonna practice as hard as we can and see what we can do,” Concha-Foley said.
Davidson liked the tenacity and effort the Warriors showed against his Colts (3-4).
“Even though they are small, they are tough sons of guns, which makes a difference in this game. I haven’t seen this kind of heart out of Whittell in several years,” Davidson said.