Whittell puts streak to rest
Warriors dominate Serpents 40-6 in 2A opener
By Paul Andrew
Tribune staff writer
ZEPHYR COVE – To the relief of everyone associated with Whittell High School football, the infamous 26-game losing streak has not only been put to rest but buried six feet deep by the Warriors.
Whittell’s triple-threat running game thoroughly dominated Mineral County High School of Hawthorne, putting the Warriors in the win column with a 40-6 season-opening rout of the Serpents.
“I may not believe it until I wake up tomorrow,” fourth-year player Dylan Bivens said. “I didn’t think it would be this easy, but we’ve all worked hard to get this win.”
“There is a lot of confidence with these players,” coach David Atherton said. “I’m glad we don’t have to hear about the streak again.”
In achieving the school’s first football win since 2002, there was reserved enthusiasm in the locker room after the game. The general feeling is that one win is fine, but there are bigger goals for the team this season.
“We need to focus and keep going,” Atherton said. “Our goal now is to make the playoffs.”
The tone of the game was set during Whittell’s initial drive. Beginning on their own 18-yard line, the Warriors running attack, featuring sophomores Philip Gielow and Cody Nelson running inside and junior quarterback Roberto Concha-Foley outside, consumed more than six minutes of the first quarter. Nelson scored on an 11-yard run, with Steven Mick catching the conversion to give Whittell and early 8-0 lead.
After allowing one first down, the Warrior defense stiffened, forcing the Serpents (0-1) to punt. On third and long from their own 45, Concha-Foley found Rio Delucia on a long pass to the Hawthorne 18 as the first quarter ended.
As the second quarter began, Nelson ran up the middle for 13 yards, giving Whittell a first down at the Serpent 5. Concha-Foley swept around the right side to give the Warriors a 14-0 lead.
Hawthorne’s offense began to catch fire, though, with behemoth running back Rudy Dominguez, listed at 265 pounds, taking charge. Deep into Warrior territory, however, Dominguez was stopped on a fourth and one on a superb ankle tackle by Nelson.
Starting at their own 40, the Warrior running game took control again. After a 10-yard run by Nelson to midfield, Concha-Foley zigzagged for a 30-yard carry down to the Hawthorne 20. The scoring drive culminated with a 5-yard touchdown by Gielow, giving Whittell a commanding 20-0 halftime lead.
Turnovers again hurt the Serpents in the third quarter. A long pass from quarterback Logan Espinosa to running back Curtis Espinosa put the ball on the Whittell 42. Hawthorne fumbled on the subsequent play to end the scoring threat. Whittell capitalized, with Nelson running 50 yards to the 2, then scoring moments later to increase the Whittell lead to 28-0.
A strong defensive stand on the next series, highlighted by Bivens and Gielow tackles, gave the Whittell possession once again. Another established running attack by the Warriors concluded with a 4-yard touchdown pitch from Concha-Foley to Delucia, putting Whittell in command 34-0 after three quarters.
Early in the final period, Concha-Foley scrambled off a broken play from his 22 for a highlight reel 78-yard touchdown run, breaking several tackles along the way.
“That would have been a 10-yard loss last year,” said Whittell co-coach John Summers. “Roberto and the rest of the kids all worked hard in the weight room during the off season to get stronger and are hard to bring down.”
Late in the fourth quarter, Hawthorne finally got on the board on a 20-yard pass from Espinosa to Devonte Walker.
Whittell was able to control the clock on the running of fullback Geof Caliger and Nelson, giving Whittell the conclusive victory.
As the appreciative crowd gave the hard-working Warriors a standing ovation, the team took time to enjoy the historic victory, but have high expectations that include a trip to the postseason and a winning season.