Whittell football blasts Sierra Lutheran 83-18 in home opener
ZEPHYR COVE — The Whittell football team dominated the first two quarters of its home opener on Thursday, Sept. 10, and that was enough for a dominant victory. The Warriors trounced Sierra Lutheran 83-18 in their Div. IV West League debut, scoring all 11 touchdowns in the first half.
“We prepare at a different level than other teams,” Warriors head coach Phil Bryant said. “When we prepare hard, it shows what we’re capable of doing.”
Whittell (2-0, 1-0 IV West) found the end zone on the second play from scrimmage with a 40-yard run from Corey Huber. That score set the tone for a dominant 24 minutes that featured nine scoring drives of less than two plays and a pair of kick returns for scores.
“We can’t apologize for being prepared,” Bryant said. “We went and scouted them, we knew what they did, and we didn’t feel like they could stop us on offense.”
On the Warriors’ second drive, Colin Buchholz took a quarterback keeper 38 yards for a score that made it 15-0 with 10:27 left in the first quarter. Dismas Womack ran for an 11-yard touchdown on the next possession to put Whittell ahead 22-0.
Whittell’s next three first-quarter drives all went for scores as a fast start quickly turned into a runaway. Huber ran for a 43-yard score, Buchholz scored on a 43-yard run, and Womack hauled in a 24-yard pass from Buchholz. Those three touchdowns and a 75-yard punt return for a score from Huber gave the Warriors a 50-6 lead by the end of the first quarter.
“We weren’t right on the money passing early, but our running game was solid, our line played solid and our defense was solid,” Bryant said.
While Whittell’s offense rolled in the opening 12 minutes, its defense stifled Sierra Lutheran (1-2, 0-1). The Warriors held the Falcons to four yards combined on their first five possessions before surrendering their first touchdown of the season, a 38-yard pass from Ryan Salerno to Seth Houghton with 1:14 left in the first quarter.
“There wasn’t anything they did that we didn’t expect,” Bryant said. “It was pretty predictable straight on through.”
Palmer Chaplin hit a 37-yard field goal to open the scoring in the second quarter and put Whittell ahead 53-12. And after Sierra Lutheran ran a fumble back for a score with 9:02 left in the half, Whittell scored four touchdowns and a safety to take a commanding 83-12 lead into the break.
Following Sierra Lutheran’s score, Womack took the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. Buchholz then connected with Chaplin for a 46-yard touchdown, and Caleb Moretti ran for scores of 38 and 33 yards — the second coming on the last play of the half.
The last seven minutes of the second quarter were played with a running clock, as were the final two quarters. Whittell brought in backup quarterback Trent Dingman midway through the second quarter, and played exclusively reserves on both sides of the ball after halftime on the way to a 65-point victory.
“People forget that we are just 13 games away from a one-win season. It has been hard work and commitment that has gotten us to where we are,” Bryant said. “Sierra Lutheran will get better and better with the work of their coaches and players; we were there just over a year ago and turned the program around.”
Buchholz finished 4-of-7 passing for 157 yards and two touchdowns, and added 87 yards and two scores on three rushes. Huber’s two carries totaled 83 yards and both resulted in scores, Womack’s two receptions went for 35 yards and two touchdowns, and Moretti finished with 158 all-purpose yards and two scores.
Defensively for Whittell, Womack and Gunnar Barnwell each intercepted passes and Bastion Elkins recovered a fumble. The Warriors held Sierra Lutheran’s spread attack to 203 yards in the win, including 85 in the first half.
“I’m really proud of the effort, we just have to keep working,” Bryant said.
Whittell returns to action next Saturday, Sept. 19, at Coleville. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.