By Desmond Howard
The Wildcats of Whitewater High School defeated the McIntosh Chiefs 41-12 in an impressive Homecoming performance on a rainy Saturday night.
Whitewater rewarded the fans who weathered the conditions by scoring a quick strike touchdown in the open moments of the game. On their first snap, Austen Millians drew the defense up with the playaction, then fired a dart over the top to Aaron Jones, and he did the rest, racing to the house for a 61-yard touchdown.
After a quick three and out for the Chiefs, the Wildcats once again drove down the field to take an early 14-0 lead on an 8-yard Braxton Mueller touchdown.
Late in the first, a Ty Marshall sack pushed the Chiefs deep back in the shadow of their own end zone. A fumbled snap on the punt sent them scurrying, and Byrd tackled the punter just short of a safety. Millians punched it in on a QB sneak to lead 21-0.
The second quarter began with more Whitewater dominance as the Wildcats blocked a punt on the first play of the quarter, and took over at the McIntosh 33-yd line. The following drive finally showed signs of hope for the Chiefs after what should have been the Wildcats fourth touchdown of the game ended with a fumble that went out the back of the end zone and gave McIntosh an opportunity to swing momentum. Ultimately the Chiefs would return the ball to the Wildcats on a punt. Whitewater ended the half with a 24-0 lead after Brennen Schmitt nailed a 27-yd field goal.
Not much would change in the final two quarters, but the Chiefs were able to get on the scoreboard with a Hayes Herzog quarterback sneak from the 1-yd line. A botched hold on the PAT forces McIntosh into an impromptu 2-point conversion attempt which the Wildcats snuffed out with ease. WHS responded with 10 unanswered points, including a 35-yd rush by Dalton Bonner to end the 3rd quarter.
Down 34-6 to begin the 4th quarter, McIntosh needed a statement play. They indeed made such a play by recovering a Whitewater fumble as the Wildcats were driving and in turn drove down the field to score on a 5-yd rush by Marcus Malone. Another failed PAT left the Chiefs trailing 34-12.
Not to be outdone on Homecoming night, the Wildcats answered with an 18-yd touchdown from Corey Richardson to push their lead to 41-12 .
This game was all Wildcats from start to finish. WHS was able to essentially do whatever it wanted on both sides of the ball, despite playing three games in a span of 10 days after a COVID-19 quarantine. Coach Chad Frazier said the coaching staff had to be strategic as to not overwork the players who had to balance games with practice and schoolwork. Frazier attributed the successful handling of the situation to his coaches’ and players’ ability to mentally prepare.
Frazier said, “I believe the key to the win was our kids ability to mentally prepare. We went for 15 consecutive days, and it was as much a mental grind as it was physically. Our coaching staff and our kids handled it so well.”
As for the Chiefs, they didn’t do much to help their cause by committing a large amount of penalties throughout the contest. Even though they won the turnover battle, which in most cases would put a team in position to win, McIntosh defeated themselves time and time again with penalties. Coach Lee Belknap was very precise about what his team needs to do in order to limit the penalties and mental errors, saying, “We need to be more focused on executing our assignments correctly.”
Whitewater will get a short reprieve and will play Nov. 6 against Starr’s Mill, while McIntosh will match up against Harris County Oct. 30.
To see more game photos: https://www.cdphotography23.com/Sports/High-School/Football/Football-2020/Whitewater-vs-McIntosh