Palin lends Wildcats a hand or two

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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The pass was thrown where only Corey Palin could catch it, so the Whitney High School wide receiver could not afford to break stride after getting away from a Christian Brothers cornerback. Palin lunged for the football, caught it with his left hand and sprinted to the end zone. His highlight-reel reception covered 59 yards and gave the Wildcats a 14-point lead in the first quarter. “I didn’t think I could catch it with two hands,” Palin said. “My right hand was back, so I went for it (with one). That’s just how the stars aligned on that play. Jake (Rodrigues) threw a great pass.” His big play was in vain, however. Whitney lost 35-31 to fall to 2-2. Palin finished with six catches for 121 yards, his fourth 100-yard receiving game this season. The touchdown was his sixth. Palin also kicked a 28-yard field goal in the loss. It was his first this season. He also had one last season, when he was promoted to the varsity team as a sophomore to catch, kick and punt. Head coach Mike Gimenez promoted four sophomores in 2009, including Rodrigues, as he assembled his roster and built for the future. The youth movement has continued this season. Sixteen juniors and two sophomores were in Whitney’s starting lineup against Christian Brothers. The shortage of varsity experience has resulted in the Wildcats’ inconsistent play thus far. Inexperience is a weak excuse as far as Palin is concerned, however. He is not playing that card. “We’re a young team, but we’ve got a lot of talent,” he said. “We’ve played four games and we know what we have to do to be successful. We can’t use being young as an excuse anymore.” Gimenez is trying to convince his team of that even though he admits there have been growing pains in his fifth season. “This is Week 5, so that’s got to change,” Gimenez said. “The time has come for us to just get it done.” Whitney’s fifth game will be a trip to Roseville on Friday night to battle Woodcreek. The Wildcats will return home Oct. 8 for their Capital Athletic League debut against Mira Loma of Sacramento. Palin said he is buying what Gimenez is selling and believes the Wildcats are coming of age as a team. “I understand what he’s doing,” Palin said. “He’s had success, and there’s no substitute for evidence.”