The White Pine High School football team will hold its home opener on Friday at 7 pm. in Ely. Coming off a 26-8 win over Mountain View Christian in Las Vegas last week, the team is set to face conference rival Yerington, which has won the state title two years in a row.
According to MaxPreps, Yerington (2-0) is number one in the state division 2A rankings and number 83 in the country. The Bobcats (1-1) are ranked ninth in the 2A rankings.
Fighting 100 degree temperatures, the Bobcats jumped out to a quick lead last Saturday in Vegas. Quarterback Monty Moore connected on a 25-yard pass to Dakota Barela for a quick 6-0 lead in the first quarter, then found him again on 30-yard pass play in the second. The Bobcats were unable to make either two-point conversion and settled for a 12-0 lead at the half.
The Bobcats received the ball to start the second half, and on the first offensive play, Taverick Birmingham scored on a jet sweep that went for 50 yards. After making the two-point conversion, the Bobcats were up 20-0. The final score came on a 20-yard pass play to Birmingham.
“It was a big battle against the weather,” said White Pine Coach Quinn Ewell. “It was running 100 degrees and when you come from a place where it’s 70 degrees, it drained us from the get-go.”
The Bobcats had an advantage in that the Saints were only able to field 11 players, but the heat seemed to even things out.
“I was really proud that we were able to get out of there with the win,” Ewell said. “Especially when you’re battling the heat. We kept our poise and had to substitute a lot, but the guys came in and held them scoreless for the first half and most of the second half.”
Ewell doesn’t expect this Friday’s game to be any more easier for the Cats, as Yerington has rolled over its two previous opponents, defeating Bishop Union in Bishop, Calif., 33-14 in week one and Sierra Ridge/Rite of Passage 40-0 at home last week.
“We need to be mentally prepared and gut it out to the end,” Ewell said. “This is a team that knows how to play football. We need to take on that challenge — that is our main focus. We’re getting ready for a battle. It’s not going to be a game that we can blow it out — we have to gut it out to the end with them.”
Ewell said part of Yerington’s success comes from being able to consistently field a JV team of 20 kids or more, allowing them to develop players before they become upperclassmen.
“They’ve been coached well,” Ewell said.
The Cats will be looking for a lot of unbalanced lines from the Lions’ offense.
“They often have three offensive lineman on one side of the ball versus just two on one side of the ball,” Ewell said. “We expect them to be strong and big and fast. We need to be more fundamentally sound and work to control their speed, their big guys and contain them.”
After two weeks on the road to open the season, Ewell said he welcomed finally coming home to Ely to play football.
“It’s always nice to play at home,” he said. “I can’t wait to get hear the home crowd and I’m excited to play under the lights at home. Hopefully we can get the cannon going and get a big boom.”