Whittell gridders excited for home game, field dedication
ZEPHYR COVE, Nev. — Home sweet home.
George Whittell High School will host a football game Friday night for the first time since the current seniors were sophomores.
“I’m super excited to finally have a home game,” said Warriors senior Dalton Warswick. “Not having a home game for my junior year was a bummer but I’m glad to have them my senior year. I’m gonna be on cloud nine running out onto the field. I’ve been waiting for this the whole year to play a home game.”
A dedication of the new $3 million-plus Lisa Maloff Athletic Facility will be held at 6:15 p.m., shortly after the girls’ soccer game that starts at 3 p.m. and right before the football game that kicks off at 7 p.m.
“It’s been in the back of my head the whole time, even when we’ve been playing in other games, I would think, “I can’t wait to play that home game,’ ” said senior Isaiah Womack. “There’s the big Lisa Maloff ceremony, it should be huge with lots of people because we haven’t played a home game in over a year.”
The Warriors played their entire home schedule last year at South Tahoe Middle School. Whittell stayed in the Tahoe Basin and played in another school district to ease the pain of traveling fans and parents rather than drive down the hill and play farther away and lose a distinct elevation advantage.
“That just wasn’t fun because there’s a big Viking head or whatever in the middle of the field,” Womack said. “Yeah, it just wasn’t home.”
The Warriors are hoping playing in front of their home fans will help them break a two-game losing streak after falling 76-70 to Tonopah last week. Whittell hasn’t lost two games in a row since 2014 when it lost its final game of the season and in the first round of the playoffs.
Even with the loss at Tonopah, Whittell head coach Doug Patton was happy to just field a team, which was in doubt earlier in the week due to injuries.
The boys’ soccer season was canceled due to lack of interest and that turned out to be a blessing for Patton. He filled out his roster when a couple of soccer players decided to try out football.
“I’m happy we were able to field a team,” Patton said. “I don’t want that to be an excuse for the rest of the season, but we had three guys playing in their first game, two were soccer players we got when their season was canceled.”
Whittell’s offense didn’t miss a beat last week with Womack and Warswick going off with yards and touchdowns, but it was difficult stopping Tonopah with inexperienced defenders in places they’ve never played.
Womack rushed for 269 yards and five touchdowns on 19 carries and also caught eight passes for 65 yards and two more scores against Tonopah.
Warswick gained 254 yards and three TDs on 19 carries and also made a 10-yard reception.
Senior quarterback Trent Dingman completed 9 of 15 passes for 75 yards and two TDs.
“We fought and fought, and were down 23 points in the third quarter,” Patton said. “The team came together and they weren’t willing to let it get that far out of hand. It came down to an onside kick. But, just a Herculean effort from Trent, Isaiah and Dalton, and our line showed marked improvement. Our offense looks good.”
The Warriors will definitely see the return from injuries of Malachi Womack and Dylan Wade this Friday and maybe another all-leaguer from a year ago if all goes well with his classes. So Patton may be able to put experienced players in positions they’re used to playing.
Whittell (1-2) will host Smith Valley (1-2) and the teams have a common opponent, Eureka. The Warriors fell to the Vandals 36-8 while the Bulldogs lost 44-8.
Whittell will open play in the 8-man West League next week.
“The kids are really upbeat about this week,” Patton said. “They see guys are returning this week. I’m excited and they are excited. They’re doing everything they can to get ready and have things be right.”