by Henry Miller | Staff Writer
The Whitworth Pirate football team finished the 2018 regular season with a 52-0 win over Willamette. The Bucs finished the season with a record of 9-0. Their season was filled with impressive wins including their first win over Linfield in 11 years on September 29.
The Pirates dominance extended throughout a very talented conference teams like George Fox, Linield, and PLU have been powerhouses in the conference. This season was able to take them all down very convincingly. The Bucs pulled of the upset against Linfield winning 19-14. They then went to face a tough George Fox team away and won 38-14. Then on homecoming weekend in what looked to be difficult matchup against PLU, the Bucs won by an incredible score of 55-13.
“We bring the same attitude we do every week. It is about us and we need to play Pirate Football for 60 minutes. We are playing for our seniors and we are playing for a 9-0 and perfect regular season. That is a lot. But most importantly, we are playing a game we love to play and we can’t wait to get out there and compete,” said head coach Rod Sandberg.
The Bucs running game powered them to their undefeated record. Running backs Tariq Ellis,20’, and Mason Elms,19’, helped tally a total of 24 rushing touchdowns on the season. The Whitworth ground attack also finished with 1579 yards.
“Having two very good RB’s is a significant blessing and they are very different. Mason is at his best using his speed and running around would be tacklers. Tariq is much more downhill and run through your tackle. They complement each other well and help keep each other fresh which helps productivity late in a game and even now late in the season,” said Sandberg.
The Offense also was transitioning from a record setting quarterback in Ian Kolste to last year’s backup Leif Erickson,20’. Erickson finished with 22 touchdowns and 2521 yards passing.
The Pirates game against the Lewis and Clark Pioneers was arguably their toughest of conference play. The Pirates were coming off of a dominant win over Pacific University and started off slow against the Pioneers. The Bucs were able to adjust and win 38-28.
“L&C has a great coaching staff and their players will well prepared. On offense, they ran some heavy formations that we had not seen all year and they ran some new running plays that broke tendencies. They also have a very good RB who made us miss a lot of tackles. On Defense, they made a commitment to stopping the run and putting a lot of people in the box and making us throw the ball to win,” said Coach Sandberg.
This season proved a lot to the rest of the conference about how talented Whitworth football is. Not only the roster, but the elite level of coaching that is able to adjust to whatever the team has and to make it work.
“We have played well this year because we have players that have bought in believed in ‘The Cause’ of Whitworth Football more than themselves. We have a bunch of selfless young men that really love to play the game. Another key was their ability to be unfazed by and handle adversity. We have faced some form of adversity every week all the way back to training camp, but we just keep moving forward and do not use it as an excuse or let it derail us from our task at hand,” said coach Sandberg.
The Bucs have the offseason to build on an already dominant group of players, and a dominant 2018. The NWC has as new Champion.