by Riley Hicks
It’s been a season of struggles for both the Whitewater Wildcats and Fayette County Tigers, from crucial injuries to offensive inconsistency. A dream to make a trip to the playoffs has come and gone for these rivals, so this game was about playing for pride. Both teams came in Friday night searching for their first win to hopefully mount some sort of momentum to close out the year and start preparing for next fall. The Wildcats were fired up for their senior night, and from the opening kickoff it was all Whitewater as they cruised to a 27-0 victory.
“I am happy for our seniors to get a victory. It’s a testament to our players in how they don’t quit,” Whitewater head coach Bryan Holley said. “They fought hard all year and we have been through some adversity, and they earned this one.”
The Wildcat offense quickly went to work on its first possession, driving down the field for a touchdown led by some tough running from quarterback Maddox Mueller. In just under three minutes, Whitewater scored the game’s first touchdown on a 20-yard around the left side by Elijah Roland. He added a two-point conversion to put his team up 8-0 early in the first.
Fayette tried to answer back on their opening drive, and converted a fourth down attempt to keep the possession alive, but an interception by Hunter Williams was an abrupt end for the Tigers at the 44-yard line. Whitewater’s offense capitalized on the great field position by putting the ball into Mueller hands. He broke off a 34-yard run on a quarterback keeper for another rushing touchdown, taunting the defense as he pulled away. After a missed extra point the Wildcats led 14-0.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Wildcats pressured JeKobe Coleman the entire night, not allowing him the chance to make many cleans throws to take away the passing attack. Whitewater ended the half converting two field goals by Evan Rogers for 27 and 31 yards to go up 20-0.
The lone lowlight in the first half was losing Mueller to an apparent ankle injury that knocked him out of the game.
The Tigers looked to shift in the momentum to start the third quarter after a fumble by Whitewater was recovered by Shane Leinberger to put his team in great field position. Fayette drove the ball inside the red zone, but on third down John Solomon intercepted a pass at the one yard line and returned it out to the 36 to preserve the shutout. This would be the only time the Tigers entered the red zone all night.
“That shutout is nice, and we will take it anytime we can get it,” Holley said. “They threw some stuff at us and were pretty talented on offense. That was a great job by our defense.”
With Mueller out for the game, the Wildcat offense relied heavily on Roland to carry the load, and he did so perfectly by breaking opening countless runs to extend drives. The Wildcats would put the nail in the coffin with a 1 yard quarterback sneak by Austen Millians in the fourth quarter to go up 27-0.
In less than a half of work Mueller ran for 110 yards and a touchdown on 8 carries. Roland ran for 158 yards and a score on 21 attempts.
Caleb Pressley had another big game for the Tigers, running for 161 yards on 24 carries.
The Wildcats will look to close out the season next week with another victory when they travel to face the McIntosh Chiefs. For the Tigers, they look to put a damper on Starr’s Mill’s hot streak in the region as they host the Panthers.
To see more photos from the game, click [btn type=”default or primary or success or info or warning or danger or link” link=”https://www.cdphotography23.com/Sports/High-School/Football/Football-2018/Whitewater-vs-Fayette-County/”]here[/btn].