Whitney tops El Dorado 35-13

By: Galen Kusic Special to The Placer Herald
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The Whitney Wildcats showed their versatility and depth Friday night in Placerville with a convincing 35-13 victory over the host El Dorado Cougars. Whitney set the tempo early when quarterback Josh Ladas found wide receiver Jimmy Feytser on a touchdown strike with over eight minutes to play in the first quarter to put the Wildcats on top 7-0. El Dorado came back with a 13-play, 45-yard drive that eventually was stalled when the Whitney defense forced a turnover on downs on a batted pass at the line of scrimmage. On Whitney's ensuing drive, Ladas found Feytser again in stride on a fade route down the El Dorado sideline, 61 yards to paydirt to put the Wildcats on top 14-0 with just over two minutes to play in the first quarter. "We practice that play everyday, we have a drill for it," Feytser said. "We need to get our guys back healthy and keep practicing harder." El Dorado would turn it over on their next possession when Matt Smithson picked off quarterback MacEnzie McAfee. The Cougars would begin to move the ball again after forcing Whitney to turn the ball over on downs. The Whitney defense held fast after El Dorado ran off 11 plays before being stopped on 4th and one at the Wildcat 29. After Wildcats' starting quarterback Jake Rodrigues injured his ankle four games ago, Ladas has been the starter. But just before halftime, Ladas severely bruised his shin, forcing back-up quarterback Kyle Dilorenzo to come in and take over the reigns. "We knew that our back-up guy would get the job done", said linebacker Shane Feuerbach. "All we had to do was support him and I think we did that pretty well." The second half started out shaky for the Wildcats, as a short punt resulted in a Cougar nine-play drive that eventually ended with running back Chris Haskins taking it in from two yards out to bring El Dorado within 14-7. On the next drive, Whitney lost a fumble at the El Dorado 14 - but on the Cougars' first play, Feuerbach picked off McAfee to set up Whitney for another score. After running back Shawn Azam carried for 13 yards down to the one, Dilorenzo kept it on the sneak to score from one yard out to make it 21-7 Whitney. "Our O-line stepped up and our running backs are playing really well," said head coach Mike Gimenez. El Dorado wasn't finished yet, as the Cougars drove down the field on 14 plays, culminated by a 34-yard touchdown strike from McAfee to Tanner Sepelyak to make it 21-13, after a botched PAT attempt. It was all the Cougars would get, as the Wildcats pounded the ball on seven straight plays before running back Isaiah Moore crossed the goal line from two yards out to make it 28-13 Wildcats. "We had to step it up," said Moore. "We had to rely on the line and our backups, so our depth helped us. We're trying to make the playoffs, you know, we do what we've got to do." On El Dorado's next possession after an incomplete pass, Feuerbach picked off McAfee for the second time of the night, except this time he returned it 34 yards for a touchdown to ice the win for the Wildcats, 35-13. "I was thinking to try and put a couple moves on - but that technique didn't work, so I just tried to power it in there," said Feuerbach. "Our defense was bend but don't break, but we came up with big stops when we needed to," said Gimenez. "It was a great team effort. Once again we lose another starter, but it's been that way every week." With the win, Whitney improves to 6-2, and 4-1 in league play. The Wildcats will take on Golden Sierra next Friday at 7:30 pm. "We're 6-2, we've won four in a row and we have a lot of momentum," said Gimenez. “Hopefully we can get some guys back from injury. The guys we have are doing a great job, as well as the guys that have stepped in. We just keep plugging along."