Whitworth football has one more stop on its season-opening tour of Minnesota and California. The Pirates head back to the Golden State this week to battle the University of La Verne on Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. The game will kick off at 6:00 pm and will be heard live in Spokane on KSBN 1230am and on the internet on KSBN.net.
Whitworth has begun the season 2-0 following wins at College of St. Scholastica (Duluth, Minn.) and Whittier College (Whittier, Calif.).
La Verne is on an upward trend under second-year head coach Chris Krich. The Leopards went 4-5 overall and 3-3 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletics Conference last season, their best records since 2005. Saturday's game will be La Verne's season opener.
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Whitworth (2-0, 0-0 NWC)
La Verne (0-0, 0-0 SCIAC)
Saturday - Sept. 15
The Pirates: Whitworth is off to a 2-0 start for the first time since the 2006 season, but the Pirates had to hold on for dear life in a 47-42 win at Whittier last Saturday after taking a 27-0 lead with five minutes left in the first half.
Whitworth posted one of its most efficient offensive performances of the last several seasons, rolling up 546 yards of total offense. The great news for the Pirates is that they were able to reach 47 points and almost 550 yards with starting QB Bryan Peterson being held out for most of the game with possible concussion-like symptoms. He has tested negative and will be ready to go for Saturday's game at La Verne.
Peterson completed 7 of 10 passes for 136 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in just over a quarter of work. Michael McCune came on and threw for 234 yards on 10-15 passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions in the longest playing stint of his career.
But the Pirates' real offensive star on Saturday was senior WR Jake DeGooyer, who caught 12 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns – all career highs. He also caught 12 passes last season at Lewis & Clark last year, but his previous career high for touchdown catches was two (2010 vs. Puget Sound) and he was well over his previous high for receiving yardage (149 – also at L&C last season).
Ronnie Thomas had a workman-like 109 yards rushing with two more touchdowns, raising his NWC-leading season total to five scores. DJ Tripoli gave another solid performance off of the bench with 49 yards on 15 carries and his first touchdown of the season.
The Pirate offensive line deserves much credit for the strong offensive performance. The line limited a large Whittier defensive front to a single sack and helped the Pirates pick up 29 first downs to keep possession of the ball.
The 546 yards of offense was the most by the Pirates since the team put up 596 yards in the 2010 season finale against Puget Sound – a 63-35 Whitworth win.
After the first 20 minutes the Pirate defense struggled at Whittier. It all seemed to turn against the defense after the Poets scored on a 72-yard pass on their first play from scrimmage following Whitworth's fourth touchdown. The big play would haunt the Bucs from that point as Whittier added touchdown passes of 68 yards and 65 yards later in the game. The Poets finished with 517 yards of their own after having only 55 yards through one quarter.
Ryan Loutsis led the defense with nine tackles and he was in on two tackles for losses of four yards. Grant Livingston and Aaron Cochran, last week's NWC Defensive Player of the Week, had six tackles each and Cochran had 1.5 tackles for losses of eight yards.
The Pirates' special teams held together well despite some key injuries. Austin Ehlo, the 2011 All-NWC First Team punter, was out after suffering a concussion in practice last week. Freshman Robert Thullen stepped in to average 40.7 yards per punt. He also kicked an extra point after regular PK Dominic Aliano left the game in the third quarter.
Seriously?: Whitworth's schedule-maker didn't do the Pirates any favors in 2012. The Pirates will have to face a well-rested opponent seven times this fall. La Verne will be the third straight opponent against which the Pirates will be opening their season. Then Whitworth will have to face an opponent coming off of a bye four times: Sept. 22 against Chapman, Oct. 13 at Linfield, Oct. 20 against Puget Sound and Nov. 10 against Lewis & Clark.
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 25 of the last 34 against schools from the Golden State and are 28-17-1 all-time against Californian colleges. The Bucs are 13-5-1 at home against California schools and 15-12 on the road. Whitworth played four games against schools from California in 2011 and went 1-3. The Pirates play three such games this season.
The Head Coach: John Tully is in his 18th season as head coach of the Pirates with a 91-74 record at Whitworth. He has led the Pirates to a 78-40 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 122-95 in his 22nd season as a head coach. He previously was head coach at Eureka College in Illinois.
|Last Week's Game:||Whitworth 47, at Whittier 42||Box Score||Wrap up|
|This Week's Game:||Sept. 15 at La Verne||6:00 pm||Whittier, Calif.|
|Next Week's Game:||Sept. 22 vs. Chapman||1:00 pm||Whitworth Pine Bowl|
The Leopards: La Verne comes into the 2012 season with more optimism than it has had in several years. The Leopards posted their best records overall (4-5) and in-conference (3-3) since 2005 last season under first year head coach Chris Krich. ULV returns 11 starters, four on offense, six on defense and one on special teams.
La Verne will have a new starting QB this season. Jose Garay (Sr.) and Garry Hedlund (Jr.) have experience as back ups, but there is much talk about the talent of freshman Drew Podrebarac from North Carolina, who was being recruited at one point by the likes of Wake Forest and Duke.
Whoever becomes the starter at QB will have some tools to work with, led by senior TE Christian Winnewisser and junior RB Matthew Biggers. Winnewisser caught 21 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns last season, while Biggers ran for 617 yards and four scores. Both earned Second Team All-SCIAC.
With six starters back, the La Verne defense should be strong, especially up front. Senior DL Alex Barrios earned First Team All-SCIAC last season, while sophomore DL Nick Gutierrez earned Second Team All-SCIAC as a true freshman. Both had four sacks in 2011.
Last Meeting: Whitworth was able to hold on for a 21-9 win at La Verne after All-American running back Adam Anderson went down with a broken ankle on the opening kickoff. The Pirates' defense, led by current defensive line assistant Brandon Martin, kept the Leopards out of the endzone until the final minute of play.
The Series: Whitworth leads the series 6-0 since the first meeting in 2004. Saturday's game marks Whitworth's fourth trip to Ortmayer Stadium, where Whitworth has won three times (21-9 in 2009, 34-0 in 2007, 43-23 in 2004).
Leopards' New Den: Ortmayer Stadium went through a major renovation over the last year with the addition of a new Turf field, lights and track. This will be the first-ever night game on La Verne's campus. The renovation also allowed the school to bring back men's and women's soccer.