Wildcats reload for title defense
One might think that after posting a 13-0 record in running to a section championship – and graduating 20 seniors from the squad – Whitney’s Wildcats were due for down year in comparison.
After all, among that graduating class was Pioneer Valley League MVP Zack Graves, a halfback who rushed for 2,783 yards and 39 touchdowns in his senior season.
And a quick glance at the Wildcats’ win-loss record of 3-2 might lead some to believe that Whitney is, in fact, experiencing a rebuilding season.
But that’s not so, says Terry Logue, whose Bear River Bruins travel to Whitney for tonight’s 7:30 PVL matchup.
“They do a good job. They’re well-coached and they have a lot of players,” Logue said. “And they’ve had some kids step up really well.”
Among those key players is quarterback Jake Rodrigues, who has rushed for 465 yards and five touchdowns while throwing for 189 yards and two touchdowns with five interceptions. But Logue said he’s not sure whether Rodrigues will leading Whitney’s Wildcat offense tonight.
“He didn’t play against Colfax last week,” Logue said. “But the kid who took over for him made sure they didn’t miss a beat.”
Whitney whipped the Falcons 35-7 on their home turf.
Rodrigues’ replacement against the Falcons was Josh Ladas, who stepped in to rush for 132 yards and two touchdowns and completed 5-of-7 passes for 65 yards and another score.
“With the Wildcat, you’ve got the direct snap to him with another running back right next to him and he either keeps it, hands off or throws a pass,” Logue said. “It’s tough to defend because all 11 guys are involved in the offense. It’s kind of like the triple option or the single wing. It’s tough any time you have to defend all 11 guys.”
The Wildcats, who are averaging 242 yards per game on the ground, suffered losses to Valley Oak League powerhouse Oakdale (24-7) and undefeated PVL foe Lincoln (21-14).
Bear River bounced back from a heartbreaking 31-30 overtime loss to Colfax by blowing out Lindhurst 32-0 last week.
On the season, seniors Cole White (460 rushing yards and five touchdowns) and Johnny Jewett (428, 6 TDs) have shouldered much of the offensive load. The Bruins, who are averaging 24 points per game, aren’t looking to get into a shootout on the road tonight.
Bear River’s defense has pitched two shutouts on the season, but in the three other games – including a 35-34 win over Woodcreek – the Bruins allowed an average of 31 points.
“We’re looking at two things,” Logue said. “First, we’ve got to make it a semi low-scoring game and we’ve got to try and eliminate big plays. In a couple of games, we’ve been great at that. And in a couple of others, we’ve been not-so great at that.
“We want to keep them to 14 points or less to have a good shot to win. And that’s going to be hard to do.”
To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4240.
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