Sports Writer: Brent Cook
October 6, 2021
Whitney put on a dazzling display for homecoming at Wildcat Stadium last Friday night with four quarters of football fireworks.
Facing the A-Plus Academy Knights in the second district game of the year, the Wildcats (3-3, 2-0) found the scoreboard within the first 30 seconds of the game. From there, Whitney never looked back and coasted to a 68-0 victory.
“This was a great win for us to build momentum in the race for a playoff spot,” said Head Coach Mark Byrd. “Putting points on the board helps keep the hunger. Especially with the defense and the way they have played the last two weeks. They have taken care of things and gotten better by the week.”
Both the Wildcat offense and defense dominated the game. The offense racked up more than 400 yards and 10 touchdowns, while the defense camped out in the Knights’ backfield, forcing turnovers, creating sacks and posting the first shutout of the season.
Following the initial touchdown from Whitney’s leading receiver Kyler Cryns, senior running back Dalton Wooten found the end zone on the next drive. The defense then got in on the action by stuffing the Knights on a fourth down attempt. The stop put the Wildcats in prime field position, which set up a rushing score from senior Jordan Newton.
Newton wasn’t done. On Whitney’s next possession, the senior kept grinding and capped off the drive with a 19-yard rushing score to start the second quarter. It was Newton’s sixth score of the season.
“It is a luxury having so many guys that can score,” Byrd said. “It wears on opponents and how they are going to play us. Our run game is getting better each week, which opens up more options. We have six or seven guys that can produce points.”
Up 27-0, the Wildcats kept applying the pressure by feeding Newton, who led the Wildcats in rushing on the night.
Quarterback Garrett Peacock, who finished with just over 200 passing yards, kept the Knights off balance by periodically testing the air. Despite an interception from the Knights, the Wildcat defense quickly made amends on the next play as Tristan Shelton raced to the backfield, forcing a pass to sail into the hands of Whitney’s Victor Rodriguez. Rodriquez pranced into the end zone to give Whitney a 34-0 lead.
The Wildcats closed out the half with another pounding score from Wooten and a 77-yard bomb to speedster Orrin Green.
With a 48-0 lead, the Wildcats paused for the annual homecoming celebration, which featured a moving ceremony where senior Macy McKinney was crowned queen. Macy was escorted by members of the Waco Police Department in a tribute to her late father Michael McKinney. McKinney, who was a Waco officer, passed away last December after battling cancer.
With the clock rolling at full speed, the Wildcats immediately kept fireworks going in the second half as Jairdyn Anderson grabbed an errant pass and returned it for a score. The scoring spree continued with Cryns finding the end zone again, along with another touchdown from Anderson.
The Wildcats have now outscored their first two district opponents 113-13, and Byrd hopes the success will provide some needed momentum heading into a showdown against the rival West Trojans.
Whitney will have an off week to prepare for the matchup, which will take place at Trojan Stadium on October 15. West is currently 6-0 and is ranked as one of the top 10 teams in 3A-Division 1.
“The next four games are a grind in our schedule,” Byrd said. ”We will need to lean heavily on the seniors to get us where we need to be.”