Warriors out for more respect in Dayton
Now that the Whittell High football team has bucked King Kong off its back, the Warriors can focus on the customary season goals of a winning record and playoff berth.
The Warriors, 1-2 but 1-0 in Nevada 3A Division II, put their share of first place on the line Friday night at 7:30 against the 0-1 Dust Devils in Dayton.
Following one of the biggest wins in school history – a come-from-behind 24-22 win over rival Incline that arrested a burdensome 21-game losing streak – the Warriors can now refocus their attention to loftier aspirations.
“It’s fine to get that win out of the way, but now they realize that there’s more to the season than that one win,” said Whittell coach John Summers. “There seems to be more confidence, the effort seems to be a little bit better and they are a little more positive with each other.”
They’ll face a Dayton team that will be more than ornery after a disappointing 22-21 overtime loss to Lovelock last Friday. The Dust Devils scored first in overtime and booted the extra point, but the Mustangs convered a fourth-and-three predicament for a score, then ran in the two-point conversion for the one-point division triumph.
“It’s one of the most devastating losses I’ve ever been associated with. It’s definitely a game we should have won,” said Dayton second-year coach Butch Cattanach. “I know Whittell runs the two-point conversion, so we’ve been working on stopping the two-point conversion this week.”
Actually, Cattanach knows more about the Warriors than most since he coached the Zephyr Cove program for half of the 1990s. Senior quarterback Trent Gordon and junior lineman Joel Warnick are leftovers from his coaching tenure.
“Trent has really matured over the last couple of years, scoots around the corner and can throw the ball a long ways, and Warnick is a manchild. I guess I wasn’t smart enough to put him on the line of scrimmage because he’s opening some holes for them,” Cattanch said.
Cattanach, who coached the Warriors to their last playoff appearance in 1996, scouted and even cheered for the Warriors to end their infamous streak last Saturday.
“I have a lot of respect for those kids and that program. I’m real glad the monkey is off their back,” Cattanach said. “They are in first place right now, and they have to feel real good about what’s going on. We’ll have our hands full.”
If the Warriors are to remain unbeaten in the division, they’ll have to keep 22 eyes focused on game-breaker Anthony Martinez. Cattanach will try to isolate Martinez in the open field as much as possible by having him return punts and kickoffs, sending him wide as a third receiver or lining him up at tailback. In three games he’s surpassed 400 totals yards in kickoff and punt returns.
“We just have to know where he’s at on the field all the time. He seems to be the guy they want to throw it to, so we’ll make sure our linebackers, corners and defensive backs know where he is at all times,” Summers said.
Senior quarterback Adam Sayre, and a tranfer running back Shane Vanzant that Cattanach likes to compare to former Whittell star David Atherton also make the Dust Devil veer offense whirl.
“We have to make sure we come up and get them early and not let them option beyond the line of scrimmage,” Summers said. “Their season is pretty much on the line. They can’t afford to lose another, and we can’t afford to lose for that matter.”
Cattanach says the Warriors keep things simple offensively, but their basic approach works to their advantage.
“They don’t run a lot of stuff, but what they run, they run really well,” Cattanach said.
Summers has kept things simple since the team opened fall camp with only eight players. Hence, the second-year head coach has opted not to waste critical time in some special teams areas, as fans might have noticed in the historic win over Incline. After tying the score at 22 late in the fourth quarter, Summers called Matt Wiggins’ number for the two-point conversion instead of booting the more traditional extra point.
“Right now, we have a difficult time when we drop back 15 yards to punt, and I’m not sure we can get enough protection when the ball is going back seven yards for a PAT,” Summers said. “We’ve worked more this year on our 3-yard line plays, and we’ve found some things we’re able to get three yards on all the time. Hopefully as the season goes along we can get the PAT thing going.”
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After more than 70 years of operating with a term deemed derogatory by many Native Americans, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has changed its name to Palisades Tahoe.