By Riley Hicks
On Oct. 7, 2016, with no time left on the clock, Whitewater’s defensive end Eric Ogle recovered a fumble and sprinted down the sideline to the end zone, giving the Whitewater Wildcats the victory over the Starr’s Mill Panthers. Starr’s Mill quarterback Joey DeLuca bobbled the snap but recovered the ball to spike it, instead the officials signaled that it was a fumble. At the same time, the referee threw a flag for intentional grounding, which a fumble and intentional grounding call cannot happen in the same play. Depending on the team, one will say the play counted while the other says it didn’t. Both teams have moved on from this game, but it still lingers in the minds of students and fans.
The rivalry continues this Friday at 7:30 p.m., when Whitewater (4-2) travels to Starr’s Mill (6-1) with region implications on the line.
“Last year we felt like we left a win out on the field,” Panthers head coach Chad Phillips said. “We left some things in the official hands and this year we want to control our own destiny.”
Starr’s Mill brings into the game a stout offense that relies heavily on its running game. Cole Gilley has proven to be tough to take down as one of the Panthers leading rushers. This is only one of about four other guys who could see carries Friday night. Kalen Sims and Nick Brown have also helped he Panthers, who rushed for a total of 1,505 yards this season. At practice Monday, the Wildcats defense seemed to focus on the best way of stopping the run.
“We are going to slant hard left and right,” Whitewater defensive line coach Cepada Cloud said. “We are not fearful of anybody.”
The same can be said for Whitewater’s offense, as it has also found a strong running game this season. Whitewater has rushed for 1,691yards this season behind Miles Montgomery and Kyris Barnett. Quarterback Maddox Mueller, who worked his way to starting job, has also become a dual threat with his rushing and passing game for the Wildcats.
“My biggest job is going to be stopping the run up the middle,” Starr’s Mill defensive end Coltin Houser said.
Now with a game that has brought out quite a bit of aggression through the years, a win could come down to which team commits less penalties. Both coaches have communicated at practice this week how important it is to not have personal fouls.
“Coach is saying don’t do anything stupid or say anything dumb that you’re going to regret,” Whitewater linebacker Dalton Goodman said. “He knows we are going to bring the intensity like we always do against Starr’s Mill and its going to be a good game.”