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Wildcats top Mesa Verde 40-14; Rodrigues injures ankle again

By: Russ Edmondson The Placer Herald
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Whitney High’s varsity football team dominated visiting Mesa Verde 40-14 on Friday night, the third win in a row for the Wildcats. The Wildcats are now 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the Pioneer Valley League while Mesa Verde is 1-6 and 0-4. Whitney will play in a league game at El Dorado next Friday night. The Wildcats suffered two more injuries to key players, one to quarterback Jake Rodrigues (right ankle) and the other to linebacker Conner Riordan (right leg). Rodrigues, the sophomore starter, had missed the last two games because of a high right ankle sprain. He didn’t start but he did run the offense for three plays at the end of the first half. He started the second half but left the game for good with 10:30 left in the third quarter after injuring the same ankle. Rodrigues finished with 33 rushing yards on three carries and he completed 1-of-2 passes for 10 yards. Riordan was down on the field for several minutes before leaving the game with 4:13 left in the first half. He didn’t return. “It’s been tough (with injuries),” Whitney coach Mike Gimenez said. “Every week we have two starters go down. Every Monday we come in (to practice) and move guys around. But give the kids credit – we are showing our depth.” Whitney senior Josh Ladas started at quarterback as he has for the last three games – all victories. He completed 4-of-7 passes for 46 yards and ran 10 times for 64 yards. “He threw really well tonight and he’s making some really good decisions in the run game,” Gimenez said. Ladas and Whitney’s star running backs, junior Shawn Azam and sophomore Isaiah Moore, ran well behind Whitney’s strong offensive line all night. Ethan May, Zac Post and Patrick Stole were the leaders up front for the Wildcats. Moore ran for a four-run touchdown to put Whitney up 14-0 with 51 seconds left in the first quarter and he scored from two yards out to make it 20-0 with 4:32 left in the half. Moore finished with 15 carries for 74 yards. Azam, who sat out the last two games because of an injury, ran six times for 66 yards and caught one ball for 14 yards. He scored on a two-yard run to put Whitney up 27-7 with 8:25 left in the third quarter. “With Shawn and Isaiah we have a nice 1-2 punch,” Gimenez said. The other three Whitney touchdowns all involved 5-foot-5 sophomore Kyle Dilorenzo. Dilorenzo, after taking the ball on a handoff from Ladas, threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Feytser to put the Wildcats on the board midway through the opening quarter. Dilorenzo recovered a blocked punt by teammate Anthony Stang and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown to make it 33-7 with two minutes left in the third quarter. Dilorenzo also ran in a 10-yard touchdown to make it 40-7 with 11:08 left in the game. He rushed eight times for 75 yards overall. He also blocked a punt on Mesa Verde’s opening possession of the game, setting up his touchdown pass to Feytser. “We’re just getting in there (on special teams),” said Dilorenzo, who also blocked a punt in the previous game. Dilorenzo, the quarterback for the junior varsity team last year, says the Wildcats are a confident group right now. “Just a lot of confidence – we are playing hard in practice,” he said. “Blocking really well and playing well and flying around.” Whitney has now blocked six punts this season. “It’s a focus for us – that’s what we want to do,” Gimenez said. Whitney outscored the Mavericks 20-7 in both halves. Mesa Verde scored its first touchdown with 22 seconds remaining in the first half and its second score came with 16 seconds to go in the game. Both scores, for seven and 20 yards, came on passes from Lawrence Hall to Andre Jenkins. Hall completed 18-of-30 passes for 129 yards while Jenkins finished with 10 catches for 83 yards. Running back Sir Johnson ran 24 times for 119 yards. Whitney’s junior varsity team won 54-0.