Whittell’s senior fearsome foursome help pave way in rout of Sierra Lutheran
ZEPHYR COVE, Nev. — The Warriors may or may not have played their last football game of the season Thursday night, but if it was the end, what a way to go out.
Whittell’s fearsome foursome of Isaiah Womack, Trent Dingman, Gunnar Barnwell and Alexis Gonzales were sensational in their last game at Lisa Maloff Athletic Facility.
The Warriors needed a win to have playoff shot and the four seniors helped lead the way to get it. Whittell smashed Sierra Lutheran 61-34 to forge a three-way tie for second place in the 1A 8-Man West League.
It’s now up to league officials what team advances between Whittell, Sierra Lutheran and Excel Christian. Whittell beat Sierra, Sierra beat Excel (in league play) and Excel beat Whittell. Way back in week two, Excel defeated Sierra in a non-league matchup. The teams expect to know by Saturday.
“What an incredible game,” said Whittell head coach Doug Patton. “I’m so proud of them the way they came together and fought against a bigger team. We did everything we needed to do tonight. We held up our end of the bargain. But it’s not in my hands its up to the league office.”
With its performance, Whittell (5-4, 2-2 West) put on its most attractive lipstick, sexiest dress and nicest shoes for the beauty pageant between the three teams.
“We did all we could do in the end,” Dingman said. “We just have to pray that it turns in our favor. There’s a lot of anxiety, but at the end, we have to be satisfied knowing we did all we could.”
Womack rushed for 190 yards and five touchdowns, returned an interception for a score and also threw for 57 yards and a TD.
He scored on runs of 4, 26, 17, 4 and 30. His 62-yard interception return late in the third quarter pretty much sealed the deal making the score 48-21 heading into the fourth quarter after the Warriors led 26-21 at halftime.
Womack raced all over the gridiron on both sides of the ball and every time he came off the field he went to his pit crew, or, the athletic trainer. With his muscles tight, he was getting stretched at every opportunity. Once his “tires” were changed, he was right back out there lapping the competition.
On his last touchdown run the speedster was limping and still running faster than anyone on the field.
“I really feel for anybody who has never watched Isaiah Womack play football because he’s amazing to watch,” Patton said. “He’s a game changer and one of the best runners I’ve ever seen.”
Dingman threw for 79 yards and a touchdown, rushed for 73 physical yards and also hauled in three passes for 38 yards.
His scoring toss was a 65-yarder to Dylan Wade who made the over-the-shoulder grab on a post route and sprinted the last 30 yards to the endzone.
Senior Gunnar Barnwell, playing in his first game of the season after being ineligible, made a big impact on both sides of the ball. He rushed for 168 yards and a touchdown.
“It was a dream come true honestly,” Barnwell said of getting to play in his first game. “I thought I wasn’t going to be able to play this season.”
“Trent embraced his role at the 3-back and ran real hard,” Patton said. “Gunnar, you can’t deny that kid’s tenacity. He was so ready to play this game. Everybody could see the difference. He locked up our defense. They couldn’t run to his side. For him to be at every practice and go through everything he did just for this one game, he showed what he means to this team and hopefully we go forward and play a couple more games. I’m really proud of him.”
Gonzales is the guy nobody sees because he’s busy blasting holes in the defense for the ball carriers. He obviously did a good job with Whittell rushing for 424 yards, but the Warriors had more yards before they took him off the line.
When the second string came in — Whittell has only 14 players so they mainly just switch positions — he got his chance to run the ball.
Gonzales got the ball three straight times and probably wished he had an “Alexis Gonzales” blocking for him. He had no chance and was crushed each time for a loss.
“Going into the game, we were sure it was going to be pretty tough because we lost to Excel and they beat Excel,” Womack said. “We knew we had to get it. We’re still not sure if we made it, but I definitely want more football. So it was a big win. Plus, it was my last game here ever. It’s a weird feeling.”
Notes: A likely tiebreaker the league office will use after head-to-head competition is point differential between the three tied teams. So as not to promote running up the score on opponents, Whittell will get just plus-13 points for its dominating victory Thursday over Sierra Lutheran (4-5, 2-2 West). Whittell also lost to Excel Christian 58-48. With a “13” point win over Sierra and a 10-point loss to Excel, the Warriors are at a plus-3. Excel earned a plus-10 with its win over Whittell, but lost to Sierra by seven, making them tied with the Warriors at plus-3. Sierra is at minus-6. … Should the Warriors earn the No. 2 seed from the West League, they would go on the road next week for a rematch at East League top seed Eureka (8-1, 5-0 East). Whittell was short-handed when the teams met in week 2 where Eureka rolled past the Warriors 36-8.