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Whitewater falls to Creekside 20-13 in playoffs quarterfinal

Whitewater seniors show emotion after a playoff loss.

By Michael Cuneo –

 

Photo by Michael Cuneo

Whitewater’s (Fayetteville) playoff run has officially ended after losing 20-13 to the Creekside Seminoles (Fairburn) on Nov. 26 in the quarterfinals of the playoffs.

This year, Whitewater won two of their three playoffs’ games, a drastic improvement from recent years that saw the team winless in the playoffs since 2012.

The loss was an emotional one for Whitewater, a team with several seniors who helped bolster the Wildcats playoff wins for the first time in nearly 10 years.

Whitewater head coach Chad Frazier said he was beyond proud of the way his team played in 2021, citing the leadership of his seniors as a critical piece of their 11-2 record.

Photo by Michael Cuneo

“A player-led team that’s what you want as a coach, and we had that this year. Our seniors wouldn’t hesitate to speak up, make corrections, hold people accountable, but they always did it in a strategic manner. You couldn’t ask for a better class of kids.”

Frazier also touched on the play of his defense in 2021, which anchored the team all season long.

“Defensive play was phenomenal. Our kids did a great job of playing their assignments, tackling in space

Photo by Michael Cuneo

and being physical upfront. Those are the things we needed to do and defensively, we did them. Offensively we just didn’t play well enough.” Frazier said.

Things got off to a bad start for Whitewater as Creekside jumped to a 14-0 lead after a fumble from Wildcats Dalton Bonner was returned for a touchdown by the Seminoles. There was some commotion from Whitewater coaches as a referee got caught in the middle of Bonner’s run, forcing him to stumble and fumble the ball.

The Wildcats would get on the board with a 27-yard field goal from junior kicker TJ Hartley to end the half.

In the second half, things would start well for Whitewater as a Creekside fumble gave the team exceptional field position, something they wouldn’t take for granted.

Just a few plays later, the Wildcats would score on a 9-yard-touchdown from junior Xavier Clay-turner to decrease the Seminoles lead to just 14-10.

In the third quarter, another break would come for Whitewater as defender Joshua Benton intercepted a Creekside pass in the endzone. Unfortunately for the Cats, the offense couldn’t move the ball and was forced to punt a few plays later.

Photo by Michael Cuneo

Another touchdown by Creekside midway through the fourth quarter extended their lead to 20-10 after the extra point attempt was missed.

Whitewater would try to do the impossible as time was dwindling. Needing 10 points the team sent out kicker TJ Hartley once again in hopes of converting a field goal and recovering an onside kick on the ensuing play. Hartley did convert on his 39-yard field goal with just 1:30 to play in the game, but the Wildcats special teams could not recover an onside kick on the ensuing special teams play, giving Creekside the ball and ultimately ending the game.

Coach Frazier said he loved the group of players he coached in 2021, stating that their character transcended football.

“I’m just so proud of our team for the way they carry themselves on the field and off the field.” Frazier said.

Photo by Michael Cuneo

When touching on the future for Whitewater Football, Frazier says the team will have to “grow up” a little bit as many seniors are graduating.

“I think it’s bright.” Coach Frazier said of the future of Whitewater football. “We got a lot of kids coming back, and obviously we talked about the senior, and we will lose some good players in leadership, but we have a lot of young kids who will get to play, and we’ll see what happens.

For Whitewater, reaching the quarterfinals of the playoffs is a spectacular achievement and marks one of the best seasons the school has ever had in football. The future will rely on younger players who must fit into leadership roles, something Frazier says is entirely achievable.

Photo by Michael Cuneo
Photo by Michael Cuneo

 

 

By Michael Cuneo

Michael Cuneo is a news and sports reporter for the Fayette County News. Michael graduated from Georgia State University with a degree in Journalism in 2020. In his off time, Michael enjoys torturing himself as an Atlanta Falcons fan. Follow Michael on twitter @michaelcune