For the second time in as many weeks Whitworth will take on a brand new opponent in football. On Saturday the Pirates travel to Southern California to battle the Whittier College Poets. The game will kick off at 1:00 pm and will be heard live in Spokane on KSBN 1230am and on the internet on KSBN.net.
Whitworth opened its season last Saturday with a 28-13 win over College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota. It was the first of three straight road games to open the 2012 Pirate schedule.
Whittier is in its first season under new head coach Todd Stratton, the third coach in three seasons for the Poets. Whittier is coming off of a 2-7 season in 2011, when the team finished 1-5 (sixth place) in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (SCIAC).
Live Links –
Whitworth (1-0, 0-0 NWC)
Whittier (0-0, 0-0
Saturday - Sept. 8
The Pirates: Whitworth's season opening 28-13 win at St. Scholastica went almost according to script – at least the first five minutes. The Bucs kicked off, forced the Saints into a quick punt, then went 51 yards on seven plays to score the first touchdown of the season just over five minutes into the game. Senior Ronnie Thomas accounted for nearly all of the first drive offense and scored the first TD. It was a sign of things to come.
Thomas finished the game with 161 rushing yards on 32 carries (5.0 yards per rush) and scored Whitworth's first three touchdowns. He led a Pirate ground game that finished with 223 yards and helped the Bucs gain a 13 minute edge in time of possession (36:32 – 23:28). Overall Whitworth outgained CSS 359-249 with most of the Saints' offense coming late in the fourth quarter after the Pirates had built a 28-0 lead. DJ Tripoli added to the success on the ground for the Bucs with 62 yards on 17 carries.
Bryan Peterson started at QB for the Pirates and completed 9 of 14 passes for 103 yards with one interception. The only touchdown pass of the day came from backup Michael McCune, who connected with Jake DeGooyer for a 33-yard score midway through the third quarter. DeGooyer led Whitworth's receivers with five catches for 82 yards.
The Pirate defense posted an impressive performance in its season-opener, especially in the first half when it held St. Scholastica to 30 total yards, including one rushing yard on 10 carries. Aaron Cochran led the way with nine tackles, including a seven-yard sack on fourth down that killed a CSS drive deep in Whitworth territory late in the third quarter. The Pirates finished with four sacks for 18 yards in losses. Fellow defensive lineman Rob Geissler recovered a fumble on St. Scholastica's second possession and safety Casey Monahan came up with his first interception of the season. Three of DE Drew Powell's six tackles went for a loss. Overall, Whitworth held a team that averaged almost 450 yards and over 40 points per game in 2011 to well below last season's averages.
The Pirates' special teams had a solid showing as well. Paul Miller set up Whitworth's first touchdown of the second half with a 57-yard kickoff return. Austin Ehlo's punting average (28.0 on three punts) was not huge, but he was punting for field position and all three of his attempts ended with CSS taking over inside its own 20 yard line. Dominic Aliano went 4-4 on his extra points, but missed his only field goal attempt in the second quarter. Most important to special teams - the Pirates' averaging starting field position was their own 42-yard line, while the Saints' averaging starting spot was their own 26.
Whitworth's win ended a 14-game regular season winning streak for St. Scholastica.
Whit-Who?: Whitworth and Whittier are two of the three small colleges on the west coast that are often confused for one another in NCAA circles throughout the rest of the country. WHITtier was founded in Whittier, California in 1887 by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). It is a liberal arts school with an enrollment of around 1,600. WHITman was originally founded as a boy's prep school in 1859 in Walla Walla, Washington as a memorial to missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman who were killed by Native Americans in 1847. In 1882 the school became the region's only college and it was affiliated with the Congregationalist Church. It is now a liberal arts school with an enrollment near 1,500. WHITworth was founded in 1890 near Sumner, Washington by Presbyterian minister George Whitworth. In 1889 the school moved to Tacoma, and then in 1914 to its present location in Spokane. Whitworth is the only one of the three that continues to hold strongly to its original religious affiliation and it carries an undergraduate enrollment of around 2,400.
So with such strong similarities it is easy to see why the schools often get confused with one another.
On the Air Again: Whitworth's games will once again be carried live this season on KSBN 1230am in Spokane. The relationship between Pirate athletics and KSBN goes back to 1994, a span of almost 20 years. Bob Castle, whose voice has become synonymous with Whitworth athletics on the radio, is back as the voice of the Pirates in 2012-13. Bob has called Whitworth games for the past 12 seasons, as well as in 1997-98. Bob has 20 years in radio and his experience as a sports broadcaster includes stints as the voice of Spokane Indians Baseball, Gonzaga University baseball and Washington State women's basketball.
Three SWX Broadcasts: Local cable station SWX will carry three of Whitworth's four this season: The home opener vs. Chapman (Sept. 22), the Hall of Fame/Homecoming game vs. Willamette (Oct. 6) and the regular season finale against Lewis & Clark (Nov. 10). There is still a chance that the Oct. 20th game against Puget Sound will also be picked up. SWX stands for Sports & Weather Right Now and is owned by local NBC affiliate KHQ channel 6. SWX can be seen both over-the-air and through some cable services in the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene, Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, and Yakima viewership areas. In the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene area, SWX is found on digital channel 6.2, on Comcast channel 115 in Spokane and Time Warner channel 306 in North Idaho. Click here for a complete list of station numbers throughout the Eastern Washington/North Idaho region.
Team Captains: The Pirate team captains in 2012 are offensive lineman Liam Brown, running back Ronnie Thomas and linebacker Scott Carr. Brown and Thomas are first time captains, while Carr served in that role last season.
Looking Back at 2011: Whitworth finished 4-6 after starting the season 1-5. Of the five losses in the first six games, two came on field goals on the last play of the game. Two were by a single touchdown. Then the young team found itself and won three of its final four contests – including a double-overtime victory at Willamette. The lone loss in that final stretch was 42-38 against highly-ranked Linfield. Ronnie Thomas (running back) and Austin Ehlo (punter) were named First Team All-NWC.
NWC Poll: Whitworth finished third in the NWC preseason coaches poll with 26 points, three points behind second place Pacific Lutheran. Whitworth got one first place vote, while defending champion Linfield finished first in the poll with the other six first place votes. Link to NWC Football Coaches Poll.
Racking Up the Miles: Whitworth is opening the season with three long road trips in 2012. The Pirates will fly more than 6,250 miles over the course of the first three weeks of the season following trips to Minnesota and California (twice) .
Vs. California: The Pirates have won 24 of the last 33 against schools from the Golden State and are 27-17-1 all-time against Californian colleges. The Bucs are 13-5-1 at home against California schools and 14-12 on the road. Whitworth played four games against schools from California in 2011 and went 1-3.
|Last Week's Game:||Whitworth 28, at St. Scholastica 13||Box Score||Wrap up|
|This Week's Game:||Sept. 8 at Whittier||1:00 pm||Whittier, Calif.|
|Next Week's Game:||Sept. 15 at La Verne||6:00 pm||La Verne, Calif.|
The Poets: Whittier College, a longtime member of the SCIAC, hopes to make a big jump in 2012 under first year head coach Todd Stratton. Stratton was promoted after serving as Whittier's Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator in 2011. He was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ventura College in 2010 and he hopes to turn around a program looking for its first winning season since 1998 when Whittier won the second of back-to-back SCIAC championships.
The Poets return ten starters from 2011, six on offense and four on defense. Whittier's roster has turned over significantly since last season with many junior college transfers.
Junior Chris Lopez took over at QB midway through last season and completed 57% of his passes for 1373 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. He lost most of his receiving corps to graduation, however. A big addition could be LaFelton Traxler, a fullback who transferred from New Mexico State.
The biggest challenge will be on defense, where Whittier returns four starters from a squad that allowed more than 40 points per game in 2011. But one of the keys will be senior linebacker Charles Scicli who led the team with 92 tackles last fall, including eight for losses of 29 yards. He also forced seven fumbles during the season and was named Second Team All-SCIAC.
Saturday's game will be the Poets' season opener.
Whitworth and Whittier have never met on the football field.
The Head Coach: John Tully is in his 18th season as head coach of the Pirates with a 90-74 record at Whitworth. He has led the Pirates to a 77-40 record over the past 12+ years and has been named the NWC Coach of the Year three times (2001, 2006 and 2007). Tully is the winningest coach in school history, as well as the longest serving Pirate football coach. Prior to his arrival, Whitworth had suffered through 11 losing seasons in 12 years. Overall he is 121-95 in his 22nd season as a head coach. He previously was head coach at Eureka College in Illinois.