Whittell football beats Sierra Lutheran 62-6 in regular season finale, rolls into playoffs
ZEPHYR COVE — The Whittell football team closed out the regular season in style on its home field Thursday night, Oct. 27. The Warriors dominated Sierra Lutheran 62-6 in a 1A West League contest, notching their fifth straight victory in convincing fashion.
“We executed, did our jobs, did what we were supposed to do — and it worked out well,” Warriors senior Kai Mangiaracina said.
Whittell (8-1, 6-1 1A West) scored six first-half touchdowns Thursday and opened up a commanding 40-point lead by halftime. With a running clock after the break, the Warriors added two more scores while rolling past Sierra Lutheran (1-8, 1-6) en route to an eighth regular-season win.
“It was really special,” Warriors senior Dismas Womack said of the regular season. “I’ve been thinking about the last three years of playing football this last week and wish it would never end — I wouldn’t pick any other teammates to be with out there.”
The Warriors recovered a Sierra Lutheran fumble on the second play of the game, and needed just two plays to open the scoring. Junior Corey Huber ran for a 32-yard touchdown, then punched in the ensuing two-point conversion to put Whittell ahead 8-0 with 10:26 left in the first quarter.
Huber found the end zone on the next drive courtesy of a spectacular special teams play. The junior blocked a Falcons field goal attempt and scooped up the loose ball on the way to a 60-yard touchdown return — a two-point conversion from sophomore Dalton Warswick made it 16-0 with 7:45 left in the opening frame.
Sierra Lutheran scored on the next possession, but Whittell answered with four straight scores to take a 46-6 lead into halftime. Womack ran for scores of 70 and 40 yards, Warswick found the end zone from 37 yards out — and the last score was delivered by the Warriors’ defense.
Late in the second quarter, junior Genaro Mena intercepted a Falcons pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown. Warswick ran in the two-point try to put Whittell ahead by 40 points with 2:00 left in the first half — and put a running clock into effect.
“We came into the game a little bit slow, and no one was really there mentally until about the second quarter,” Mangiaracina said. “It clicked and we mentally got there.”
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Womack connected with junior Nic Buchholz on a screen pass that went for a 66-yard score. Early in the fourth quarter, junior Connor Huber scampered for a 72-yard touchdown to cap the scoring for Whittell.
“We don’t really care what the other team runs defensively,” Warriors coach Phil Bryant said. “We can see how they’re going to cover us and make our play calls based on that.”
Womack had two total touchdowns Thursday, running for a game-high 123 yards on five carries and finishing 2-of-4 passing for 74 yards. Warswick had 49 yards on four carries with a touchdown and four two-point conversions, and Connor Huber ran for a score and pair of two-point conversions.
“We’re really fast, and it dominates the game when you can control things with speed,” Womack said. “It comes down to conditioning.”
For Sierra Lutheran, Cole Contreras ran for 101 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. After scoring their only touchdown late in the second quarter, the Falcons were held to 93 yards the rest of the way.
For Whittell, the win punctuated a regular season full of lopsided results that moved the program to 28-5 in three seasons under Bryant. Of the Warriors’ eight victories this season, seven came by 55 points or more — including four shutouts.
“We had four bad minutes of football against Virginia City, and if you take that away we were as consistent as any team I’ve ever had,” Bryant said. “I’ve been really pleased with it.”
The Warriors open the postseason Friday, Nov. 4, at 1A East League top seed Wells (6-4). It marks the third straight playoff appearance for Whittell, who finished as state runner-up last season.
“I like where we are because I like what we’re able to do,” Bryant said. “The kids are playing well and we’re having fun.”
The other first round matchup features West League champion Virginia City (9-0) against East League second seed Eureka (5-3). The 1A Southern League playoff teams include eight-time defending state champion Pahranagat Valley (Alamo, Nev.), Spring Mountain (Las Vegas), Beatty (Nev.) and Tonopah (Nev.).