For the Daily Journal
Whiteland football coach Darrin Fisher loves how his Warriors have recovered from their rough start.
“After an 0-3 start and some tough things happened inside our locker room, I can’t be prouder of the resilience of this group,” Fisher said. “They just mentally and emotionally have been unbelievably tough. Their physical toughness is coming out now. That was a really good team win in all three phases.”
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Preston Phillips and Levi Parks each ran for two touchdowns in the Warriors’ 31-14 victory against the host Quakers in Mid-State Conference action Friday night.
The Warriors have won five in a row to improve to 5-3 and 4-1 in the league. The Quakers dropped to 4-4 and 3-2.
“Our defense has played unbelievably well since Week 4,” Fisher said. “We had some guys out early in the year. We were three weeks behind in our defense’s development because we had some guys out. Ryder Emberton played a whale of a game as he always does. Logan Mullinix played exceptional. We tried really hard to make (Plainfield) one-dimensional if we can.”
The Quakers rushed for just 84 yards.
The Warriors, using a variety of different running backs, rushed for 302 yards on 57 carries, led by Edwin Cisneros (100 yards on 23 carries). Phillips had 77 yards on seven carries, including TD runs of 11 and 8 yards. Evan Hillman added 61 yards on 10 carries. Parks delivered TD runs of 1 and 2 yards.
“We connected and just got the job done,” said Phillips, who returned to action after missing the last three games with an injury. “I have to thank everyone on the offensive line. We don’t rely on just one person.”
Fisher said the depth is showing at the running back spot with some injuries.
Whiteland’s special teams excelled as well. Jacob Ballain punted three times for a 45-yard average, including a 64-yarder.
The Warriors took a 17-7 halftime lead when Ballain hit a 27-yard field goal as time expired.
“We got out momentum going. At half, we just said, ‘Let’s keep it going and we’ll come out on top,’” Emberton said.
Whiteland scored first on an 11-yard TD run by Phillips early in the second quarter. Thirteen seconds later, the Quakers tied it on a 70-yard TD pass from Ben Slaton to Gavin Ritter at 7-7. The Warriors took the lead for good at 14-7 on Parks’ 1-yard TD run.
Midway through the third quarter, Whiteland took a 24-7 lead on Phillips’ second TD. Slaton and Ritter hooked up for 26-yard TD pass early in the fourth quarter, but after a Mullinix interception, the Warriors ran down the clock with 11-play, 59-yard drive, capped by Parks’ 2-yard score with 2:27 left.
The Warriors host Greenwood on Oct. 14 in their regular-season finale.