Warriors nearly put end to streak
HAWTHORNE – Whittell High football coach John Summers didn’t accept his new job to earn moral victories. But considering the program he took over, Friday’s season-opening loss to Hawthorne was still put into perspective.
“It’s a good loss, I guess,” Summers said. “Given what’s happened the last couple of years, I think the kids know they took a step in the right direction. They haven’t been in games in the fourth quarter for a while.”
Whittell held Hawthorne to under 200 yards of total offense but saw an early second-quarter touchdown make the difference as the Serpents beat the Warriors 6-0 in the Northern 2A opener for both teams.
“They came out and played us really tough,” said first-year Hawthorne coach Russ Barnum. “It was a nail biter. To be honest, we expected that it wouldn’t be as tough of a game.”
Whittell’s losing streak is now at 18 games – longest current streak in Nevada – but the Warriors have numerous reasons to believe it will end in 2006.
Quarterback Roberto Concha-Foley and running backs Travis Swoger and Philip Gielow stuck to a simple game plan and managed 121 yards of offense. Defensively, the Warriors forced four turnovers and limited Hawthorne quarterback Louie Loutas.
Loutas threw for 54 yards and rushed for 34, but he was picked off by Travis Swoger in the second half in what was a tight game throughout. Whittell ran more plays than Hawthorne but never penetrated deep into Serpent territory and threatened to score.
“We are bummed, but it’s a big improvement from last year when we were losing by 10 times as many points,” said Concha-Foley, who completed 7 of 14 passes and also rushed for 25 yards. “It was just small stuff like penalties and offsides. If we didn’t have those things, we might have won the game. But it shows we can win games and that we are at the same level as all these other teams.”
Hawthorne’s only wins the past two seasons have come against Whittell, including a 31-0 victory last season. But the Serpents quickly realized this wasn’t the same team.
On the second play of the game, Swoger busted out a 28-yard run to the Hawthorne 39. A nine-yard run by Concha-Foley and a four-yard gain by Philip Gielow brought Whittell to the Hawthorne 25 before a false start penalty pushed them back five yards.
The Serpents stopped the Warriors on the next two plays and forced them to punt, but Whittell made it clear that it came to play.
In the second quarter, Hawthorne (1-0) capped a nine play, 57-yard drive with Kenny Little’s seven-yard touchdown run with 10:02 remaining. The Serpents had another promising drive before halftime, but Loutas’ 25-yard field goal attempt was blocked as time expired.
The second half was another back-and-forth affair with neither team ever in good position to score. The Warriors’ best drive came late in the third quarter when it reached the Hawthorne 29 and appeared capable of tying the game.
Although the Warriors moved 23 yards on four plays to get one of their 10 first downs in the game, the drive was stopped when Concha-Foley’s pass was intercepted on first down at the Hawthorne 28.
Still, Whittell’s defense forced three fumbles, held the Serpents to just nine first downs and never let the game slip away. In the end, though, Whittell couldn’t find that big play to get in the end zone.
The Warriors turned it over on downs on their final possession, then Loutas and the Serpents ran out the clock.
“My biggest fear was would we be able to compete from start to finish?” Summers said. “We pretty much did that, and we have some plays out there that work. We would put three or four good plays together, but then it was those little things that would stop the drive.
“We’re just real young. We’ve five freshmen out there going both ways. Sometimes it’s tough to overcome those little mistakes when you are in that situation.”
Whittell’s home opener is on Saturday against Rite of Passage at 1 p.m. in Zephyr Cove.
FRIDAY’S PREP BOXSCORE
HAWTHORNE 6, WHITTELL 0
Whittell 0 0 0 0 — 0
Hawthorne 0 6 0 0 — 6
H- Kenny Little 7 run (conversion failed), 10:02
Rushing Ð Whittell: Gielow 17-44, Swoger 5-32, Concha-Foley 7-25, Humbird 4-(minus 6), Nelson 2-0; Hawthorne: Little 7-44, Loutas 7-35, Dominguez 6-46, Beisch 7-14, Leach 1-3
Passing Ð Whittell: Concha-Foley 7-14-1-26; Hawthorne: Loutas 7-16-1-54.
Receiving Ð Whittell: Humbird 5-22, Coates 1-2, Mick 1-2; Hawthorne: Qualls 4-50, Beisch 1-6, Dominguez 1-5, Little 1-(minus 7).
Records: Whittell 0-1 overall, 0-1 league; Hawthorne 1-0, 1-0.
Next: Saturday, Rite of Passage at Whittell, 1 p.m.
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