The Whittier College Football team suffered a crushing 60-0 defeat in their season opener against the NCAA D-III, 19th-ranked Pirates of Whitworth University Saturday morning at Memorial Stadium.
Going into the season opener with a new staff and a fresh start, Poet players and coaches were optimistic that they could hold their own against the D-III powerhouse Pirates. The Poets have a strong core of returning players, such as junior wide receiver Bryson Sanders, who is complemented by an eager crop of newcomers.
According to Sanders, the team has been staying focused since training camp and was ready to go on Saturday. “We‘ve been working pretty hard since weight training started in January,” said Sanders.
New head coach Mike Neale agreed. While acknowledging the Pirates prowess, Neale said, “We were prepared … We faced a quality opponent and made some critical mistakes that cost us.”
From the start, things didn’t go well for the Poets on Saturday. On the Pirates’ first possession , running back Duke DeGaetano rushed for a 66-yard touchdown. When Whitworth quarterback completed a 44-TD yard pass to Kevin Thomas on their next possession, the downward spiral had begun. Whittier fumbled its next possession and the Pirates were able to capitalize by marching 51 yards in six plays ending in another rushing touchdown by DeGaetano. By halftime, the Pirates had taken an insurmountable 43-0 lead.
The Poets, though, showed some pluck in the second half, putting some life into the coaching staff’s themes of the week — “reach your full potential” and “believe.”
Though they couldn’t overcome the huge first-half deficit, the Poets did manage to hold the Pirates to just 17 second half points. Though the offense struggled, the defensive effort gave the Poets something to build on for their game this Saturday, Sept. 17 as they travel to Austin to play the Austin College Fighting ‘Roos. “This team is hungry and striving to compete and get back to the winning traditions of Whittier College Football,” said first-year quarterback Jonathon Ceballos.
As new head Coach Neale put it, “Regardless if we’re 1-0 or 0-1 on a given Saturday, our goal is daily improvement and weekly improvement. We’ll continue to grow and develop and be better than this week and be better than today on down the road.”
Hope springs eternal, even in the fall.