Warriors beat up but ready to host rival Virginia City for homecoming | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Warriors beat up but ready to host rival Virginia City for homecoming

Whittell works in the rain at Wednesday's practice in preparation for its homecoming game Friday against Virginia City.
Bill Rozak / Tahoe Daily Tribune

ZEPHYR COVE, Nev. — It was a big week at George Whittell High School.

Monday through Thursday featured different dress up days to celebrate homecoming and Wednesday was picture day for athletic teams.

In between raindrops, athletes would quickly pose for photos and then find cover from the downpour. The production was eventually moved into the gymnasium.

Thursday night was the annual homecoming bonfire held near the school off of Warrior Way in the Frisbee golf parking lot.

With all the activities happening throughout the week, Whittell found time to prepare its shorthanded football team for their most important game of the season against their rival, and nemesis, Virginia City.

“Homecoming, it’s always about the football game for me, regardless of what’s going on during the week,” said senior Isaiah Womack. “I’m always thinking about the game. If we lose it spoils homecoming.”

“Hectic,” said first-year head coach Doug Patton of homecoming week. “It’s very hectic.”

The Warriors are coming off a painful 58-48 loss to Excel Christian in their 1A 8-man West League opener. The loss cost the Warriors more than a game in the standings. They lost one of their top players, Dalton Warswick, for the rest of the season due to a serious injury along with starting offensive lineman Mason Brown.

Whittell was leading Excel Christian by a couple of touchdowns late in the first half when Warswick, the team’s starting middle linebacker and running back, went down.

“You can’t replace Dalton,” Patton said. “But it’s gotta be next man up and we’ve gotta keep working. We’re working on a new defense because when you lose Dalton, you can’t replace him with two guys.”

After watching one of their stars go down with injury, the Warriors had a difficult time recovering from the tragedy and gave up a string of touchdowns to fall well behind.

“We were playing well in first half,” Womack said. “Dalton got hit and is out for the season and from there on, it kinda fell apart. In the second half we couldn’t stop them and we couldn’t block them. We didn’t have Dalton to lead block. It just turned into a really bad game.”

But, as has been the case this season, the Warriors never gave up. Whittell stormed back to make a game of it, scoring three TDs in the final four minutes.

“It took us a little bit of time to get our traction back and realize we are still a really good team,” Patton said. “We went from being way down and came storming back at the end. But once again, the guys never gave up. We picked up the pieces and made a game out of it.”

Over the last four seasons, Whittell or Virginia City has been in charge of the league. The Warriors won the league title in 2015 and the Muckers won it the other three years. The games have been close, except for last year’s 44-20 Warriors loss down in the desert.

Whittell can’t afford too many more losses or they’re going to need help to reach the postseason.

The top two in the five-team league qualify for playoffs and the Warriors (2-3, 0-1 West) already have one loss and have just three more league games. The Muckers (4-1, 0-0 West) are opening their league season against the Warriors.

Despite the personnel losses, the Warriors feel they can compete.

“We lose two starters and now we have to play VC, our rival, for homecoming, I didn’t want homecoming to be exactly like this,” Womack said. “Playing against them, they are such strong opponents. The last three years we had easier games. But we’re trying to stay positive because we know we can get a win, it’s just going to be a little harder.”

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