Whiteland’s football team ended the regular season on a low, suffering a surprising home loss to Greenwood.
A week off before the playoffs did the Warriors a world of good.
Edwin Cisneros rushed for 146 yards, all in the first half, Jace Carpenter completed a handful of long passes and the defense shut down the visiting Grizzly Cubs as Whiteland rolled to a 34-0 victory in Class 5A sectional semifinal action on Friday night.
The Warriors (6-4) travel to fourth-ranked Columbus East, a 49-9 winner against Martinsville, to play for a sectional championship next week.
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“A goal that we had was to come out and play the game consistently for four quarters with high emotion and intensity,” Whiteland coach Darrin Fisher said. “I thought we did that.”
The Warriors got on the scoreboard first with 5:30 left in the opening period on a 24-yard field goal by Jacob Ballain. Following a Franklin turnover, Ballain had another attempt from 50 yards out, but that kick went just wide to the left.
Whiteland opened things up a bit early in the second quarter when a 24-yard punt return by Gared Kleyn set up a short field for Cisneros, who scored on a 27-yard run two plays later to make it a 10-0 game.
Following a three-and-out, the Warriors struck again, this time with a rare passing touchdown. Facing third and long at the Franklin 20, Carpenter rolled left and found a wide-open Bailey Watson in the end zone, stretching the lead to 17 with 4:13 remaining in the half.
Ballain added a 35-yard field goal as the second quarter ended.
The Grizzly Cubs were held to 73 first-half yards, all on the ground.
“The goal’s always a shutout,” Whiteland linebacker Ryan Hahn said of his team’s defensive effort. “When you can do it to a team that you play all the time, it’s an even better feeling.”
Jake Perry’s 9-yard TD run, which came on the heels of a 31-yard fourth-down pass from Carpenter to Watson, extended the Warriors’ lead in the third period. Perry then caught a 16-yard scoring pass from Carpenter with 6:23 left in the fourth to cap the scoring.
For the Grizzly Cubs, the shutout loss was a disappointing end to a tumultuous 1-9 season — but head coach Adam Reese remained proud of his players, particularly the seniors who stuck it out.
“They didn’t quit,” he said. “They played their tail off, and that was true again tonight all the way through to the end. They continued to play hard, and what else can you ask for, really?”