Friday night’s high school football season-opener had a little of everything for Class 5A No. 5 Whiteland.
There were big plays on offense, defense and special teams that should have Warriors fans excited about the season ahead. But there were also plenty of sloppy moments and mental errors that the coaching staff will pounce on.
The Warriors shook off a slow start to rout host Lafayette Jeff 43-14.
The game was halted with 3:35 to play in the fourth quarter after Bronchos senior Austin Mcgreevy was injured on a punt coverage play. Mcgreevy, who appeared to have movement in his extremities, was removed from the field in an ambulance.
There was no immediate word on his condition.
The Bronchos scored first on the feet of running back Daniel Ricksy. The junior took a pitch and went off the left tackle, untouched, for 51 yards just over three minutes into the game to put Lafayette Jeff up 7-0.
Whiteland appeared to answer immediately.
Senior Isaiah Calaway collected the ensuing kick at the Warriors’ five-yard line and went straight up the middle, dodged one tackler and then cruised for what appeared to be a tying score. However, Whiteland was called for holding and the ball was placed at its own 12-yard line.
That just delayed the inevitable. The Warriors marched 88 yards in nine plays to tie the game with 4:37 remaining in the first quarter on a one-yard plunge by sophomore quarterback Jace Carpenter.
Lafayette Jeff again drove deep into Whiteland territory, getting as far as the 19 before senior linebacker Nick Ratti blew up an inside run on third down. The 37-yard Bronchos’ field goal attempt fell just short.
Whiteland took control of the game in the second quarter with their running game and some big defensive plays.
Anthony Schantz gave the Warriors the lead with 10:19 to play in the quarter on a nine-yard run. The point after failed, leaving it 13-7.
On the following Bronchos possession, Whiteland sophomore Ryder Emberton tipped a pass and collected it for an interception. The Warriors gave the ball right back, though, three plays later on a fumble. That possession lasted exactly one play, as Whiteland senior Gabe Clippert picked off Brandon Gawlik.
Seven plays and 43 yards later, the Warriors went up 20-7 on a Shaw Cloud two-yard run, a lead they took into the halftime break.
Calaway nearly took it to the house again to start the second half. This time he streaked 78 yards before a shoe-string tackle brought him down at the 18 yard line. Schantz scored his second touchdown of the night two plays later from a yard out.
The Warriors added scores by Shaw (63-yard run), Brandon Patterson (42-yard run) and Ratti, who tackled Ricksy in the endzone for a safety.
Whiteland coach Darrin Fisher said there were good moments but plenty to work on.
“This was week one football,” Fisher said. “I thought the first half was fairly clean, but the second half was sloppy football. We have some things to clean up. There’s some good teaching film there.
“The best time to learn is when you win. It’s a good place to start.”
It was an efficient night for Carpenter, who was seeing his first varsity action. He threw the ball just six times — one for an interception — but completed three of those passes for 66 yards.
More importantly, he guided the Whiteland offense to 18 plays of nine yards or more for the night. They racked up over 420 yards of total offense, with 359 of those coming on the ground.
The Warriors host county rival Center Grove on Friday.