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Preview of Whitney Wildcats football

Coach Gimenez returns some of league's top performers
By: Andrew Hazard Gold Country News Correspondent
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Whitney High School should also be in the running for a division title in 2011. The Wildcats finished last season with a 4-1 Capital Athletic League record (7-5 overall) for second-place in the division behind Antelope (5-0 CAL, 6-5 overall). QUARTERBACK Whitney brings back senior quarterback Jake Rodrigues who has turned out to be one of the top quarterbacks in the CAL and the Sac-Joaquin Section. Rodrigues finished 2010 with the sixth-best passing percentage in the section at .510 (126 of 247), he threw for 2,039 yards, had 21 touchdowns and only nine interceptions for a quarterback rating of 92. Rodrigues led the league in nearly every statistical category for a quarterback. Rodrigues was also named to the ESPN RISE-Student Sports first team in the Sac-Joaquin Section. Cordova senior quarterback Mike Hicks is the only other quarterback in the CAL giving Whitney a shot at dethroning Antelope in 2011. RUSHING Rodrigues is also the CAL’s returning leading rusher. Last season he led the league with 1,300 rushing yards on 208 attempts, and he was able to score 22 touchdowns. He also led the league in scoring and total offense last season. Whitney also returns running back Isaiah Moore. Moore carried the ball 67 times for 360 yards and scored five touchdowns in 2010. The second best returning rusher in the league this season is Rio Americano’s Basil Okoroike who had 65 rushes, recorded 573 yards, and had eight touchdowns. RECEIVERS Whitney also brings back the top receiver from last year in senior Corey Palin. Last season Palin had 51 receptions that went for 952 yards and he added 11 touchdowns. Wide receiver Christian Daniels and tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick should also return this season. Daniels had 16 receptions for 271 yards and two touchdowns, while Cope-Fitzpatrick caught 29 passes for 327 yards and seven touchdowns. He, too, was named to the ESPN-RISE first team. Palin was selected to the second team. Antelope should also have a good group of receivers in junior Tyler Winston and senior Jarvis Watkins. The two combined to have 66 receptions, for 1,097 yards and nine touchdowns. DEFENSE Whitney will return some key players on defense, as well. Last season’s leading tackler in defensive back Tanner Hughes returns. Hughes recorded 29 tackles and 13 assists in 2010. Senior J.T. Hirsch should be among the leaders for linebackers. Last season Hirsch had 18 tackles and 15 assists. Two more key members of the secondary return. Junior Jordan Powell had 25 tackles and seven assists while senior Trevor Sitch recorded 21 tackles and 10 assists. Senior Alex Ewing should also be returning for the Wildcats. The defensive lineman recorded one sack last season. Rio Americano’s junior free safety Zach Suarez led the league with six interceptions last season. SPECIAL TEAMS Palin also really helped special teams last season and looks to again in 2011. He attempted two field goals and made both. He made 39 of 51 extra-point attempts (.765), the second-best conversion rate in the CAL last year. Palin had the second best punt average (33.57 yards) last year. He had nine touchbacks on 66 kickoffs. Palin also led the league in punt return yards with 92 yards on 12 attempts. Junior wide receiver Connor Graves led the Wildcats with 13 kick returns that totaled 266 yards. A combination of an experienced offense, defense, and special teams should make for an exciting season for Whitney. E-mail Placer Herald Sports at jiml@goldcountrymedia.com