Warriors test ROP for three quarters
By Steve Yingling
Tribune sports editor
ZEPHYR COVE – For a half, the Warriors demonstrated that they could compete with reigning champions of Nevada Class 2A football.
But Rite of Passage shook Whittell’s confidence with a 42-point barrage en route to a 50-28 Northern 2A victory Saturday.
“If you told me we were going to score 28 points, I’d say, ‘Shoot, we’re gonna win or at least be in position to win,’ ” said Whittell coach John Summers. “We couldn’t move the ball. We were on defense too much.”
Fresh off their first victory since 2002 the previous weekend, the rejuvenated Warriors marched 65 yards for a touchdown on its first possession Saturday. The Warrior momentum kept building as ROP suffered a turnover on its first possesion and lost starting quarterback Carlo Granderson to an ankle injury.
“My hat goes off to the coaches and players here. I thought they played us tough, in particular in the first half,” said ROP coach Willie Taylor. “They are gonna be tough this year. They are gonna surprise some people. There’s nothing but good things ahead for these guys for the next couple of years.”
Sophomore stalwarts Cody Nelson and Philip Gielow combined for 248 rushing yards and all four Whittell touchdowns. Nelson’s 3-yard run opened Whittell’s scoring and the first of Gielow’s two scores – a 26-yard scamper – put Whittell ahead 12-8 late in the first quarter.
But after Whittell prospered to a 12-8 lead in the second quarter, the defending state champs permitted the Warriors’ just one more score until late in the fourth quarter. Running back Terrance Stephens stepped in at quarterback to trigger the Rams’ high-powered rushing attack.
Nigel Williams’ 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown started a 22-point run by the Rams in the second quarter. Nelson’s 5-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion pass from Roberto Concha-Foley to Rio Delucia just before halftime pulled Whittell within 30-20.
By then, ROP had started to win the battles on the line of scrimmage, providing huge running lanes for Marcus Glover, Phillip Goodlow and Xzavier Medlock.
“It’s tough when you give up that many points,” said Whittell coach David Atherton. “We were letting the offensive line get all over us and put us wherever they wanted.
“This game was a learning step and there are some things we need to get better at. My biggest worry right now is our kids are not going 100 percent every play.”
After a scoreless third period, Phillip Goodlow’s 1-yard TD run gave the Rams some breathing room at 38-20 with 7:49 remaining.
An interception by Williams 27 seconds later sealed the Warriors’ fate.
Whittell’s young stars, however, didn’t Whittell give up. Gielow’s 30-yard sweep and a two-point conversion catch by Kenny Boulet with 3:15 to go trimmed ROP’s lead to 16 points.
Marcus Glover’s 5 and 49-yard touchdown runs – his third and fourth of the game – capped ROP’s scoring.
Nelson said that even on a day when only 15 players were in uniform, the team can still get the job done.
“We can go 100 percent the whole time. We condition hard and we work hard in practice,” Nelson said. “We just have to get everybody to not be scared. We’re not the biggest team out here, but we’ve got to be the meanest, fastest and strongest team.”
Whittell will host its third straight game on Saturday when Silver Stage comes to town for a 1 p.m. divison contest.