Whittell football ends season with honors, hopes for the future | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Whittell football ends season with honors, hopes for the future

Whittell football ends season with honors, hope for the future

By Paul Andrew

Special to the Tribune

For most teams, a winless football season would mean disappointment and frustration. For the Whittell Warriors, who were unable to field a team in 2003 due to lack of numbers, producing a team that completed the season, and played competitively, made all those connected with the program feel like winners.

With declining enrollment, many in the community felt that we had seen the last of football at the small Zephyr Cove school. When a few coaches and players talked about the difficult task of getting a team together after the year off, many people thought it couldn’t be done.

Thanks to coach Dennis Young, his staff and a group of motivated players, Whittell not only played, but was competitive and never gave up.

“We started with 31 players and ended with 31,” Young said. “The players were always upbeat and never quit.”

Of the 31 players, only 10 had ever played competitive football prior to this season.

Even with many of the scores lopsided, the Warriors, who finished 0-7, continued to play hard, scoring late in several of the games.

All of the kids kept each other motivated,” Young said. “The younger kids who got beat up every day in practice against the starters never complained.”

Several Warriors received postseason honors. Jeff Young made first team all-league punter and placekicker, thanks in part to a school record 50-yard field goal in the game against Battle Mountain.

“I had never kicked it that far,” Jeff said. “When I kicked it, I didn’t think I hit it solid enough, but it went through.”

The record kick brought added excitement to the season.

“We think it’s a school record, and possibly a 2A record,” said coach Young about his son’s long kick. “After it went through, the kids acted like they’d won the Super Bowl.”

Second-team all-league honors went to running back Tommy Esquivel, wide receiver Chris Anton, defensive lineman Travis Swoger and offensive lineman Michael Flanagan. Flanagan also received honorable mention for his play at linebacker, as did defensive lineman Tyler Kolstad and Young for his play at quarterback.

Other season highlights included scoring twice against a talented Independence team, which qualified for the postseason playoffs and playing in front of a large, supportive homecoming crowd. “We really appreciate the support we received from the school, the community and fans. The cheerleaders cheered to the very end, just like our kids fought until the end,” coach Young said. “These kids are outstanding and had a great time.”

Everyone associated with the program is excited about next year. With added experience of this year’s players, plus the addition of some new players, football at Whittell is on solid footing.

“A high school needs a football team,” Young said. “There was a void last year and having a team helped school spirit.”

Though the scoreboard didn’t show it, it was a good year for Whittell football. The teamwork, fortitude and effort these kids displayed proved the people wrong who said they wouldn’t succeed. That can be a more valuable life lesson than winning a few games.

– Paul Andrew is a correspondent for the Tribune. He writes columns and stories about Whittell High sports and the University Nevada, Reno athletics.

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