Whittell football beats Smith Valley 70-8, finishes regular season undefeated
ZEPHYR COVE — The Whittell football team concluded the regular season with a businesslike victory on Thursday, Oct. 29. And in the process, the Warriors pulled off a rare feat.
Whittell beat Smith Valley 70-8 at home Thursday night to finish the regular season with a 9-0 mark and win the Div. IV West League crown. The 2015 Warriors completed the regular season unbeaten, one of the few teams in program history to do so.
“You don’t realize how hard it is to do that until you get to the end,” Warriors senior Palmer Chaplin said. “At the end, you’re looking back and realize you won every game — that’s pretty cool.”
“I can’t put it into words,” Warriors senior Aubrey Felton added. “It’s just too good.”
Whittell (9-0, 7-0 IV West) started fast to easily dispatch the Bulldogs in its regular season finale. The Warriors scored six first-quarter touchdowns and had a 57-0 lead at halftime. Smith Valley (2-7, 1-6) avoided the shutout with a touchdown on the last play from scrimmage.
The Warriors got a defensive stop to start the game, and quickly found the end zone on their first offensive possession. Dismas Womack scored on a 36-yard touchdown run to put Whittell up 7-0 just more than two minutes into the game, setting the tone for an early onslaught.
“Everyone just had to do their best,” Felton said. “As long as everyone does their job, we’re fine.”
On the second play of Whittell’s next offensive drive, Corey Huber scored on a 2-yard run to make it 14-0. Then the Warriors took four plays to score, finding the end zone on a 17-yard run from Colin Buchholz to go ahead 21 points with 3:51 left in opening frame.
In the last three minutes of the first quarter, the Warriors followed a special teams touchdown with a pair of defensive scores to take a 42-0 lead. Isaiah Womack ran a punt back 48 yards for a score, then Whittell ended consecutive Smith Valley drives with interception returns for scores.
Corey Huber picked off a pass near midfield and took it 48 yards for a score with 49.3 seconds left in the quarter. Then on the next drive, Chaplin intercepted Bulldogs quarterback Isaac LaFleur and returned it for a 38-yard touchdown on the last play of the opening frame.
“The coaches told me to cover a little differently,” Chaplin said. “I did it and the ball fell in my lap.”
Buchholz threw touchdown passes to brothers Corey Huber (40 yards) and Conner Huber (59 yards) in the second quarter, as Whittell took a commanding 57-0 lead into the break. Smith Valley ran only one play in Warriors territory in the opening two quarters.
In the second half, Whittell scored a touchdown both the third and fourth quarters to punctuate the win. Corey Huber broke a 91-yard run for a score late in the third, and Armando Rodriguez scored on a 2-yard run midway through the fourth to put the Warriors ahead 70-0.
“It feels great,” Felton said of the league championship. “We lost it in the last five minutes of the regular season last year — being able to beat Virginia City and make it all the way through the season is amazing. It’s the best feeling in the world.”
The Warriors’ win secured the outright Div. IV West League title and capped an undefeated regular season. For the second straight year, Whittell will continue its campaign in the state playoffs, and it will host a postseason game for the first time since 1991.
“It means a banner on a wall,” Chaplin said. “League champs then state champs is our goal. We got the first one, and that means a bunch. We have a complete team, so it’s not a surprise to us; but it’s not expected either and we still have to work for it.”
In two seasons under Bryant, Whittell has a 17-2 combined record. The Warriors won their first nine games last season, and have matched that mark in 2015. The season before Bryant arrived, they finished with one win.
“It’s really gratifying as a coach,” Bryant said. “Two years ago when I took it over, we had a lot of building to do and we didn’t know how long it would take.”
Whittell opens the Div. IV state playoffs at home Friday, Nov. 6, against Carlin (Nev.) (9-1) in the league playoffs round. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Felton said. “The teams that are coming up are nothing like the teams we’ve played before — it’s going to be a fun and hard challenge.”
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