Whiteland’s homecoming game Friday at James Sleighter Field contained all the usual pageantry.
The Warriors’ football team, meanwhile, dispensed with the on-field drama early.
Whiteland built a 21-0 lead less than five minutes into its Mid-State Conference game against visiting Mooresville and cruised from there to a 40-7 victory, improving to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in conference play.
The Pioneers remained winless (0-7 and 0-5).
A LOOK AHEAD
Next Friday’s high school football games
Center Grove at North Central, 7 p.m.
Milan at Edinburgh, 7 p.m.
Franklin at Greenwood, 7 p.m.
Indian Creek at Brown County, 7 p.m.
Whiteland at Plainfield, 7 p.m.
Decatur Central at Roncalli, 7:30 p.m.
The Warriors’ defense shut down Mooresville’s attack, intercepting four passes and compiling eight sacks. Their first interception, which Dyllan Whittaker returned 25 yards for a touchdown, came on Mooresville’s first offensive play from scrimmage and gave Whiteland a 14-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
Three Warrior sacks, two by Skylar Hall and one by Jesse Street, came on consecutive plays to open the second half. Hall finished the game with four sacks, while Cody Starnes added two.
“This is the first game where we really felt like we put together all four quarters,” Starnes said. “We knew Mooresville would play with a fire, looking for their first win. Our attitude came from a good week of practice.
“We played against the second-teamers (in practice) the same way we would play in a game.”
Whiteland coach Darrin Fisher’s postgame analysis wasn’t overly glowing, but the eighth-year Warriors coach was generally pleased.
“We want to play focused, fast and physical, and at times, we’ve lost one of those three phases,” he said. “The game wasn’t as clean as we would have liked it to be, but I was pleased with the effort from all of our guys.
“Starnes missed all of last season (torn anterior cruciate ligament), and getting him back was a huge lift. He leads by example and with his work ethic.”
The Warrior defense didn’t allow a Mooresville first down the entire second half, while limiting the Pioneers to minus-3 rushing yards. The Pioneers benefited from two lost fumbles and a muffed punt, the latter leading to Mooresville’s lone touchdown with 29.7 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
“Skylar used his quickness to get in the backfield, and our defensive coaches had a nice game plan that enabled us to get movement up front,” Fisher said. “Our defensive game plan was to get after them with some movement up front, and our defense forced some of their turnovers.”
Whiteland running back Aaron Harris finished with 146 rushing yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns. Quarterback Adam Gutermuth threw for 114 yards, ran for one touchdown and threw for another. Jacob Anderson caught for passes for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Whiteland led 33-7 by halftime and pulled its starters with seven minutes remaining in the game. it was the Warriors’ third straight win against the Pioneers.
Whiteland returns to action next Friday at Plainfield.