Whittell falls to Virginia City in heavyweight 1A clash
VIRGINIA CITY, NEVADA — The Whittell Warriors knew exactly what was coming Saturday afternoon, but they couldn’t stop it.
With a share of the 1A Northern West 8-Man League championship and No. 1 seed in the playoffs on the line, the Virginia City Muckers used a physical rushing attack to beat the Warriors 44-20.
Fans came in droves. Virginia City fans were mobbed on the Mucker’s sideline. Smoke from the barbecue hovered over the field and it was like a big picnic at the park.
Warriors fans lined their side of the field, facing into the bright sun, and tried to will Whittell to victory.
But the Muckers were just too strong.
“They were definitely stronger than us,” said Whittell junior running back Dalton Warswick. “We could have executed better, but they won this game. They overpowered us and we didn’t execute well enough.”
Coming into the game, Whittell head coach Phillip Bryant had his players prepared for the Virginia City offense, but the physicality proved to be too much.
“Whittell is a great football team,” said Virginia City head coach Ron Presley. “They have speed like no other, but we are pretty physical. We’re gonna run it up the gut and that’s what we do. That’s who we are.”
Whittell started the game strong, marching down the field on the game’s opening drive to take the lead. Warswick scored on a 7-yard run and also pounded in the 2-point conversion to make it 8-0.
The Muckers answered back behind a strong dose of running backs Wyatt Pieretti and Evan Breckenridge to tie it at 8.
The Warriors made one of their few mistakes late in the first quarter when they lost a fumble on their own 3-yard line.
VC took advantage to take a 14-8 lead. The Muckers added another score in the second quarter for a 22-8 lead.
“We came out not really in it, maybe timid in the beginning and they got the best of us,” said Whittell quarterback Isaiah Womack.
The Warriors got a break late in the half when VC had a snap sail over the punter’s head. Whittell got the ball deep in Muckers’ territory and Warswick plunged in for a 4-yard score to make it 22-14 at the break.
VC added another touchdown early in the third quarter and it seemed the game was getting out of hand.
But the Warriors bounced back. Senior Corey Huber rushed for a 30-yard gain and Warswick scored his third touchdown of the game on a 6-yard run. Whittell didn’t get the 2-point conversion and trailed 30-20.
At that point, the Muckers completely wore down the Warriors and rushed for a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Pieretti finished with 244 yards rushing on 27 carries and quarterback Jordan Sequeira gained 105 yards on eight attempts. Breckenridge gained 65 physical yards on 18 carries. In all, VC rushed for 435 yards on 56 carries.
“The things we were worried, we had legitimate reasons to be worried,” Bryant said. “Their size and strength inside, they dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. They were able to move our defense and then get into our offense. They earned it. We didn’t play poorly, they stopped the things we like to do. Our kids were gassed at the end with their physicality. VC is well coached and they deserved it today. We got beat.”
Huber led the Warriors with 82 yards on 12 rushes, Warswick had 52 on 14 carries and Womack had 30 yards on nine attempts. The Warriors rushed for 164 yards on 35 carries.
The Warriors (7-1, 5-1 1A Northern West 8-Man League) next will host Smith Valley at 6 p.m. Thursday at South Tahoe Middle School in their final regular season game. They will start the playoffs a week later against Eureka, a team they beat handily during the pre-league season.
“We’ve just gotta keep our heads up,” Womack said. “We’re gonna back to work at practice next week and get back to it.”
“We’re gonna hold our heads up no matter what,” Bryant said. “The kids aren’t going to get everything in life they want. There will be disappointments and they have to take it like men, and they did today.”
CORRECTION: This article mistakenly stated the Warriors’ next game started at 7 p.m. Friday. The story has been corrected with the actual date and time.