Whittell hangs tough vs. Battle Mountain
By Paul Andrew
ZEPHYR COVE – With only 14 players suited up for Whittell, Battle Mountain undoubtedly thought they were in for an easy afternoon in their game against the Warriors on Saturday. They couldn’t have been further from the truth, as the undermanned and undersized Warriors battled toe to toe with the Longhorns, finally falling 60-32 in a hard fought game.
Dylan Bivens and Tim Helwig were honored before the game, as the two seniors were set to play their last home football game.
The Longhorns, (7-1), displayed a powerful running attack behind a huge offensive line that was able to overpower the Warrior defense most of the afternoon. Whittell’s offense, led by Northern 2A passing leader Roberto Concha-Foley, was matched the Longhorns with a balanced attack that kept the Warriors in the game until midway through the second half.
“I’m proud of the way they fought,” coach David Atherton said. “I can’t get mad about a loss like this. The kids channeled their aggression and showed attitude.”
Whittell’s opened the game with a solid drive to the Longhorn 35, highlighted by a 25-yard pass from Concha-Foley to Rio DeLucia. However, a pass on fourth and nine from Concha-Foley was intercepted, ending the drive. Battle Mountain drove 65 yards with Michael Lake scoring on a five yard touchdown run. Cody Fellows added the two point conversion to give the Longhorns an 8-0 lead.
The Warriors, (2-6), answered with a long drive of their own behind the running of Philip Gielow and Cody Nelson. Concha-Foley hit DeLucia on a one-yard TD pass, with Gielow scoring the conversion to knot the score at 8-8.
Whittell forced a fumble on the next Longhorn drive as the first quarter ended with the game tied.
Battle Mountain’s huge offensive line, which includes four players weighing over 250 pounds, took charge with a second time consuming drive culminating in a five yard score by Lake. The conversion gave the Longhorns a 16-8 advantage.
The Warriors were unable to move on their next possession. Again the Longhorns mounted a long drive, with quarterback Matt Newgard scoring on a one-yard sneak to give Battle Mountain a 22-8 lead.
Whittell answered with a 75-yard drive, highlighted with Concha-Foley’s 45 yard td pass to DeLucia. With 1:43 remaining in the half, the Longhorns drove the length of the field, and ended the first half with a seven yard score by Newgard to take a 28-16 lead at intermission.
With 320-pound lineman Randy Verbeck leading the way, Battle Mountain opened the second half with a 58 yard drive that ended with a three yard touchdown run by Fritz Knight to give the visitors a 36-16 advantage.
After holding Whittell on the next series, the Longhorns abandoned their efficient running game, and experimented with a passing attack. Whittell made them pay, as Concha-Foley picked of a Newgard pass and raced into the end zone to pull the Warriors within two scores at 36-24.
Battle Mountain went back to their running game, driving the length of the field on their next possession to open a 44-24 lead on a two yard run by Knight. After a fake punt by Whittell gave the Longhorns the ball inside Warrior territory, Lake ran 25 yards giving Battle Mountain an insurmountable 52-24 advantage at the end of the third quarter.
The resilient Warriors didn’t quit, as Whittell opened the final period with a scoring drive highlighted by a 25 yard touchdown run by Concha-Foley. A pass to freshman Kenny Boulet from Concha-Foley for the two point conversion closed out the Warrior scoring for the afternoon.
“Putting up 32 points on that Battle Mountain defense was a statement,” Atherton said. “Roberto (Concha-Foley) played a great game. You can see the camaraderie with this team.”
A late touchdown on a 12-yard run by Carl Sutherland gave Battle Mountain the 60-32 victory, as the Longhorns ended the hard fought game.
“I think they were shocked how tough the game was,” Gielow said after the game. “That last td before the half changed the momentum, but we fought hard.”
“We kept fighting,” Bivens added, the lone senior who has been with the program for four years, and experienced his first victory this season. “The years have gone fast. We’ve improved immensely since my freshman year.”
Whittell concludes the season with a rivalry game at Incline next Thursday beginning at 1 p.m.