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Whitney rolls in Idaho, will head to Woodland

Graves scores four touchdowns in first quarter
By: Russ Edmondson The Placer Herald
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Whitney High’s varsity football team will play at Woodland Friday night, trying to improve to 2-0 on the young season. Woodland, just like Whitney, shut out its first opponent of the season as the Wolves won 17-0 at Lincoln Friday. Whitney coach Mike Gimenez starred at Woodland High as a player and coached the varsity team before taking over as Whitney’s first coach in 2005. He has never coached against Woodland before. “Going back there will be interesting,” Gimenez said. “A lot of the kids that played for me are now coaching there (as assistants) and it will be fun to go back. They keep telling me ‘hey coach, we’re going to take you down.’ It will be a fun game. “I’ll see a lot of people that I’ve known over there. It will be weird being on the visitor’s side but times change. And really I’m only worried about it being a short week for us.” It’s a short week because Whitney played in Idaho Saturday night as part of the Rocky Mountain Rumble at Idaho State University in Pocatello. Four teams from this area (Whitney, Grant, Del Oro, Colfax) played four Idaho teams in what is going to be an annual event. Whitney opened its season with a 48-0 victory over the Idaho Falls Tigers. Grant also won its game but Del Oro and Colfax lost. All four games were played Saturday and Whitney vs. Idaho Falls was the third game while Grant played in the final game. The teams all traveled by bus to and from Idaho and all four games were played on Altitude TV. “It was really cool – the four California teams were kind of in it together,” Gimenez said. “We were all rooting for them and them for us and we really wanted to go 4-0. And after those first two games I think our kids had a little more focus and it was ‘hey we need to get in here and get a win for our state.’ Grant was pumping our kids up and we pumped them up. “The long bus trip, 5,500 elevation up there and I wasn’t sure how that would affect us. The other California teams were cramping up.” Gimenez didn’t need to worry as the Wildcats dominated the game from the very beginning. Whitney senior running back Zack Graves caught a touchdown pass from Charlie Hetland and ran in three touchdowns to put Whitney up 28-0 after one quarter. Graves finished the quarter with six rushes for 132 yards despite totaling negative seven yards on his first three carries. The Tigers had no answer for the Wildcats as Whitney had 224 yards in the opening quarter and Idaho Falls had less than zero. Idaho Falls was without its starting quarterback because of a concussion. Graves, who scored 21 touchdowns last year, scored on runs of 48, 14 and 77 yards in the quarter and his touchdown catch was for 26 yards. On his 48-yard score, his second of the quarter, Graves ran the final 46 yards with only a right shoe on as a Idaho Falls defender had taken the other one off while trying to make a tackle. Gimenez, despite being up 28-0 after one quarter, didn’t want his team to let up. “If you’re up 28-0 you still have to keep playing,” Gimenez said. “Championship teams keep playing. I thought they kept their focus the whole game and even when the backups came in they did a real good job of focusing.” Whitney had extended its lead to 48-0 with 6:03 still remaining in the third quarter as senior receiver Jake Snyder caught the final three touchdowns of the day. Snyder finished with five grabs for 158 yards with two of the touchdown passes coming from Hetland (22, 35 yards) and one from Graves (10 yards). Graves sat for nearly the entire second half and finished with 10 carries for 143 yards, two catches for 64 yards. The scoring pass to Snyder was his only pass attempt. Graves caught a 62-yard touchdown pass from Hetland early in the third quarter but the score didn’t count because of a clipping penalty. Whitney’s quarterbacks were a perfect 12-for-12 on the day, with Hetland (7-7, 217 yards, three touchdowns) leading the way. Junior Josh Ladas was 4-4 for 14 yards. “In (Hetland’s) first start at QB and going 7-for-7 with 217 yards and three touchdowns is pretty crazy,” Gimenez said. “And Snyder had a huge game, ridiculous game. Matt Dinicola (defensive tackle, fullback) did a great job and our defense was really fast. We have really good team speed, we had 10 tackles for a loss.” Senior Nick Law converted 6-of-7 extra points in the win, Whitney made no turnovers and had zero penalties in the first half. Whitney also forced three turnovers as senior Ryan Schermerhor had an interception and Law and senior Ryan Sowma recovered fumbles. Junior Chad Thompson stripped the ball away from a ball carrier to allow Law to recover his fumble. “It’s what our team needed,” Gimenez said. “We’ve told our kids that we have the talent but we still haven’t come together as a team. That’s been a big focus, gelling as a team and I think this trip did a lot for that. Going up there with Del Oro and being around Grant and Colfax and playing in that stadium is really neat. “Playing in a dome – there is nothing like that around here. The crowd was great and very into it.”