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Whittell football aims for sustained success after turnaround

Anthony Gentile
agentile@tahoedailytribune.com
Whittell senior Colin Buchholz (left) and junior Kai Mangiaracina (right) await a snap during the team’s scrimmage last weekend. Buchholz and Mangiaracina are two of the Warriors’ top defensive players headed into the 2015 season.
Courtesy / Boyd Dangtongdee |

2015 Regular Season Schedule

Aug. 29 at Loyalton, 1 p.m.

*Sept. 10 vs. Sierra Lutheran, 7 p.m.

*Sept. 19 at Coleville, 1 p.m.

*Sept. 25 vs. Pyramid Lake, 7 p.m. (Homecoming)

*Oct. 3 at Excel Christian, 1 p.m.

*Oct. 9 vs. Mineral County, 6 p.m.

*Oct. 17 at Virginia City, 1 p.m.

Oct. 24 at North Tahoe, 1 p.m.

*Oct. 29 vs. Smith Valley, 6 p.m.

*Div. IV West League contest

Home games in bold

The Whittell football team is seeking sustained success in 2015 after a turnaround campaign. And even before the start of the season, that challenge has proven difficult.

“We’re not going to sneak up on anybody,” Warriors head coach Phil Bryant said. “We’re good enough to win the league — the potential is there, the ability is there, but right now the heart is not there and the commitment is not there.”

Whittell won its first nine games in 2014, equaling its win total from the previous four years combined in Bryant’s first season as head coach. The Warriors made the Div. IV state playoffs and finished with a 9-2 record, a turnaround they hope to build upon this season.

“We had success last year and rolled through things, and some of the players have the mindset that we’ll be fine this year,” Bryant said. “That’s not the way it works — you can go from 9-2 to 2-9 pretty easily.”

“There’s a lot of work ahead.”Phil BryantWarriors head coach

The Warriors have high expectations, but have struggled to find chemistry during camp this month. Whittell lost five seniors from last year’s team — including three captains — and found it challenging replacing their leadership.

“There’s a lot of work ahead,” Bryant said.

Offensively, quarterback Colin Buchholz and the backfield duo of Corey Huber and Dismas Womack will lead Whittell. Buchholz threw for 1,839 yards and 28 touchdowns and ran for another 359 yards and eight touchdowns last season. As a senior, he’ll take on more responsibility in the passing game.

“We want to get the ball in the hands of our playmakers as quickly as possible,” Bryant said.

Huber finished second on the team in rushing last season, running for 935 yards and six touchdowns as a freshman. Womack played receiver last year and will see more touches in the backfield this season; he led the Warriors with 651 receiving yards in 2014.

“If you can get guys spread out over the field, you’re going to create some running lanes,” Bryant said. “That’s what we have to capitalize on — making guys miss in the open field with Corey, Dismas and Colin.”

Senior Quinn Kixmiller anchors Whittell’s offensive line at center, but the Warriors are still figuring out who will play guard and tight end next to him in the trenches. Whittell has made slight tweaks to spread out its offensive attack, and Bryant said it looked good in the team’s scrimmages against California schools Princeton, Los Molinos and Elk Creek last weekend.

On defense, the Warriors plan to run a similar scheme to last season but will use more blitzes and stunts. The Warriors’ defense features reigning Div. IV West League player of the year Buchholz along with Kixmiller and junior Kai Mangiarcina on the line.

Whittell opens the season at Loyalton (Calif.) on Saturday, Aug. 29. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.


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