Whittell football draws third ‘beatable’ opponent
Whittell won’t find a mirror image in Friday’s gridiron matchup against Yerington, but the similarities surprise neither coach.
Yerington’s Lions bring a better record into the 7:30 p.m. Friday meeting at Yerington, with a 1-1 mark overall, 1-0 record in Northern Nevada 3A Division II play. But Whittell (1-3 overall, 1-1 in league play) is not as far behind as its record might indicate: Both teams earned their wins in the same manner – capping rallies against Incline with decisive two-point conversions. And both have lost to Rite of Passage in blowouts.
“I would assume, just from that alone, we’re pretty close,” said Whittell head coach John Summers, whose Warriors have lost one other game, 35-12 to Dayton on Sept. 24, and forfeited another.
The two teams also return similar numbers of starters: Yerington brings back seven from last year’s 4-5 squad, while Whittell returns eight.
The Yerington coaching staff saw Whittell’s 24-22 win on Sept. 17 first-hand as they scouted their future opponent.
“Whittell has lots of heart, especially compared to what their season was last year, and the number of kids who came out this year,” said Yerington head coach Eric Bobrick.
If Yerington has an advantage, it would seem to be numbers. Whittell’s varsity has grown noticeably since practice began with eight players. Yerington, though, has 50 players between its varsity and JV, and 13 have experience from last season.
The key pieces in Yerington’s wing-T attack are Matt Farler, a 6-3, 175-pound quarterback, fullback Jason Borsini, and four offensive linemen who play both offense and defense: Dustin Marriott, Kenny Vicenzio, Jeff Borsini and Ricky Gutierrez, all returning starters. Like Whittell, Yerington returns most of its veterans to the skill positions, while the players who man the lines are young. The line paves the way for the ground-based wing-T offense.
“We run a little variation of that, but we basically run the ball,” Bobrick said.
The success of the wing T usually depends on sleight of hand, and good blocking schemes. Whittell wants to disrupt that by getting off the line and creating traffic to keep the offensive linemen from pulling.
The key piece in Whittell’s defensive puzzle has been Joel Warnick, a junior who plays linebacker in addition to his every-snap duty on the offensive line. If Warnick hasn’t earned the recognition on this year’s offensive line that he did as a tailback last season, he has been a one-man gang on defense.
“We should do all right, I think,” Warnick said.
Whittell won its game with Incline by by combining 60 minutes of grit with big plays: a touchdown bomb from senior quarterback Trent Gordon to receiver Luke Forvilly, long runs, and a defense that creates turnovers.
“They run the ball really hard,” Bobrick said of Whittell. “The quarterback (Gordon) is a good option quarterback. He can also throw the ball down the field. We just try to play every down like it’s our last and see what comes from it, and hopefully can defeat them at what they’re best at, making big plays.”
Whittell, though, may be without Gordon’s services. The senior has the only significant injury for the Warriors, but Gordon’s shoulder has pressed Forvilly, a junior, into duty under center. Gordon will undergo a medical examination Friday to determine if he’s ready to play, but Summers is prepared to start Forvilly. The junior is becoming more comfortable with Whittell’s offense.
“I think I run a little better than he does,” said Forvilly, comparing his skills with Gordon’s. “He’s a lot better passer, but I’m fast, and I see us running a little more.”
Forvilly had not seen Yerington’s offense on film but is prepared for stiff pass defense. If that happens, that could free Whittell’s backfield to do its damage with the option. Summers is counting on being able to do more with Forvilly than the Warriors could last week.
“We should be able to do far more than we did the second half (against Dayton),” Summers said.
Before the season started, Summers listed three of his team’s opponents as teams suffering from similar personnel shortages as Whittell’s: Incline, Yerington and Hawthorne. The last time the Warriors faced one of those three, Whittell ended a two-year-plus, 21-game losing streak.
“I’ve just got a lot of respect for the program they have up there,” Bobrick said.
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