Warriors treat homecoming crowd to near upset of Lovleock
Eighty yards of real estate was all that separated Whittell High School and its first football victory since the 2002 season.
The Warriors covered half of the distance before Lovelock secured a tough 24-20 Northern 2A victory with an interception Saturday in Zephyr Cove.
“It was homecoming, so they were disappointed in the loss. It was that old saying, ‘It was a good loss,'” said Whittell coach John Summers. “They realized what they were capable of doing when the put it all together.
“That was a pretty fair Lovelock team and we shut them down pretty good.”
Whittell stirred up its homecoming crowd by capitalizing on Casey Coates’ solid return on the opening kickoff. Keyed by a 28-yard run by freshman Philip Gielow, the Warriors quickly marched from midfield to the goal line. Quarterback Roberto Concha-Foley scooted in from 2 yards out to give Whittell a 6-0 lead.
The Mustangs (5-1 overall), however, seemed to take control by scoring the next 16 points.
But from early in the second quarter on, the Warriors controlled the game.
Whittell answered Lovelock’s second touchdown with a defensive score. Roberto scored his second TD by niftily returning an interception 58 yards for six points. Whittell misfired on the two-pointer but only trailed 16-12 at the half.
The Mustangs built a 12-point cushion midway through the third quarter, and more importantly, converted their third straight two-point conversion.
But the Warriors kept the pressure on the Mustangs when freshman Cody Nelson followed a Travis Swoger block 5 yards into the end zone. A two-point pass from Concha-Foley to Nelson made the score 24-20.
Whittell had several more chances to end its 23-game losing streak but was denied.
“It was our best defensive game and the best effort we’ve had on both sides of the ball,” Summers said.
Summers was pleased with the flexibility and leadership of senior lineman Bryce Rafferty.
“He’s normally our weak tackle, but he’s been at three different spots same in the same game. We just keep moving him to fit our needs to certain plays,” Summers said.
The Warriors finished with a season-high 177 rushing yards, with Gielow leading the team with 76 yards on 13 carries. Nelson rushed for 74 yards on 15 carries and Concha Foley had 26 yards on 10 attempts.
Curtis Humbird led Whittell with four catches for 25 yards, freshman Jordan Morgan had two catches for 27 yards and Coates took two grabs for 24 yards. Concha-Foley completed 8 of 15 passes for 76 yards.
Whittell (0-6) will entertain Independence at 2 p.m. Saturday and Summers is looking forward to more progress from his young Warriors.
“They still have some mental mistakes that they have to cut back on, but it looks very promising after that game,” Summers said. “They have a lot to look forward to. They’ve gotten a little hungrier knowing what they are capable of doing.”