The Press Newspaper
In their 100th season of football, Waite and Scott have something in common heading into their matchup Friday.
Coach Gardner Howard’s Indians lost to the Spartans 30-14 last Friday, while Scott fell to Start 21-12 on Oct. 4. The Indians and Bulldogs, under coach Michael Daniels, will each be looking for different results when they clash at Mollenkopf Stadium.
“Whenever you get to coach against someone you consider a friend, it’s extra special,” Howard said. “Coach Daniels and I have been friends for a while now and I have a great deal of respect for him and what he does at Scott. Scott is a very proud community with tradition and history like none other, so it's a priviledge to (play a) great school with great pride and tradition competing on the battlefield.”
Waite, which fell to 1-6 and 1-1 in the CL with the loss to Start, beat Scott (1-6, 0-2) last season. The Indians hosted Bowsher this week, while the Bulldogs faced Woodward.
Some may have felt that with the difficult schedule Waite had already played, a win over Start was achievable. The Spartans (3-4, 2-0), however, managed to control the game.
“Coach (Tyson) Harder, his staff and players definitely deserve the credit for outplaying us,” Howard said. “They performed and made more plays than we did and deserved the victory. In order to compete for a league title you have to take every week as a championship game. The grueling schedule we've played will pay dividends in the long run, whether it’s this week, this season or next.
“We have a very young and inexperienced team, and every game and every play is a worthwhile experience. We had a few missed opportunities that could have swung the game in a different direction, but give Start the credit. They made the plays and executed their game plan.”
Howard said the Indians’ offensive line, which consists of tackles Dornae Higgs and Jesus Benavidez, guards Jovan Sanson and Noah Paprocki, and center Nick Jensen, has “played pretty well this season and I'm excited about their potential going forward.”
He added that junior quarterback Jeremy Pratt is also making progress. The first-year starter has completed 72 of 167 passes (43 percent) for 863 yards and four touchdowns. Pratt also leads the team in rushing, with 428 yards and four touchdowns on 94 carries.
“Our offense is predicated on making reads and decisions, and I think our quarterback is growing and learning how to execute what we want,” Howard said. “I am pushing them to be better each week and I’m very excited about what lies ahead of us. Our defensive unit has seen better days and will continue to fight, but our inexperience, youth and overall physicalness has to improve, and it will.”
Junior receiver Diondre Irish leads Waite with 25 catches for 401 yards, while senior Tyler Slawski has 20 catches for 181 yards. The Indians’ season comes to a close at home on Oct. 31 against Woodward (2-5, 1-1), which won its first CL game since 2007 with a 6-2 win over Rogers last Friday.
“The goal is always to represent Waite High School and our community with class and respect,” Howard said. “If we are able to win out and get a little help, who knows? We can still share a piece of the City title. We definitely owe it to our seniors to go out and fight for them, to have them end their senior season and careers at Waite feeling good about themselves. We are excited and looking forward to working hard.”
Despite 100 years of football, this is not their 100th meeting. Because the City League had as many as 14 teams, more or less, it was divided into Blue and Red divisions for years. Later schedules were based on results from the previous two seasons, which means they didn’t always play, but did play twice one year — 1953. Waite leads the all-time series, 48-25, with four ties.
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