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Trip could be omen for Wildcats

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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If history repeats itself, and Mike Gimenez hopes it does, Whitney High School’s football team could be months away from winning its second Sac-Joaquin Section championship in four years. The Wildcats won their first in 2008 after kicking off the season with a trip to Idaho Falls. They will return to the potato-producing state to battle Coeur d’Alene in the third week of the 2011 season. “We want the kids to do special things and to take them to special places,” Gimenez said. “This will make them work a little harder and take more pride in the program. The kids have to work for it.” Couer d’Alene went 11-1 in 2010 and finished as Idaho’s top-ranked team, according to maxpreps.com. The Wildcats (7-5 in 2010) will face the Vikings a week after hosting Rocklin for the first time. Whitney has a score to settle with Rocklin after a 48-19 loss in the teams’ first meeting last season. At least the Wildcats will not have to contend with Brian Macdonald and Jimmy Laughrea. Macdonald rushed for 270 yards and four touchdowns in the inaugural Granite Bowl. Laughrea passed for two scores and ran for one. When the teams meet again, Laughrea will be in Idaho as a freshman at Boise State. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound quarterback made a commitment to the Broncos last May and signed in February. College recruiters are targeting Whitney this spring in pursuit of junior quarterback Jake Rodrigues and junior tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick. Gimenez has become somewhat of an agent for the two. Gimenez is not expecting either player to make a verbal commitment any time soon. “They’re getting two to three offers a week, Right now they’re on a fact-finding mission, “ Gimenez explained. “They’re doing their homework. They need to see what these schools have to offer.” Gimenez reminds Rodrigues and Cope-Fitzpatrick to weigh more than football in deciding whether a college is worthy. “They’ve got to get to know the campuses and the coaches,” he said. “There’s a lot that goes into it. There’s no hurry and no pressure. The schools want them to take the time and make the right decision.” Rodrigues has already made one decision by opting to graduate in December so he can arrive at a college in time for spring practices. At least two colleges suggested he leave high school early. “It was his decision. A lot of thought went into it,” Gimenez said. “It’s not for everybody. Everybody takes a different path. Every player is an individual person. Ultimately, it’s going to work out great for him.” Such a move could turn into an opportunity for Rodrigues to contend for playing time as a freshman. “He wants to come in and compete wherever he goes,” Gimenez said. “In the fall, he would be an afterthought. He would just be running the scout team and not learning the offense. “Now they can take time with him and he can soak in the offense. It makes his stock more valuable.”