O n a night when they were playing their last home game, the Whitehall football players made sure the team’s seniors walked off Ambrose Gilligan Field as winners.
The Railroaders got a solid performance from its seniors and key contributions from several underclassmen as it rolled out to 31 first half points in route to a 37-7 dismantling of Catholic Central (2-4)Friday night.
Codie Bascue scored three touchdown (two rushing, one receiving)and rushed for 130 yards, Josh Hoagland added three touchdowns (two rushing, one passing) on his way to 290 combined yards (208 on the ground, 70 passing and another 12 in receiving yards)and Carl Rehm scored his first touchdown of the season.
Defensively, Blake Benjamin and Zach Diekel (one sack, one forced fumble) had big games for Whitehall combining for 17 tackles, four of which were for a loss.
“It was nice to turn it around after the last two weeks. It was a great win and every senior contributed,” head coach Justin Culligan said. “The (coaching) staff did a great job coming up with a good game plan.”
“It feels pretty good to come out here and win our last home game,” said senior Brett Christian, who had perhaps the hit of the year when he blindsided a would-be tackler on a quarterback scramble in the second half. “It’s a relief after the last two loses.”
“We wanted nothing more that to get our seniors the win. Everyone pitched in to make it happen,” freshmen quarterback Justin Hoagland added.
With the win, the Railroaders improve to 4-2 and are in sole possession of the fourth and final playoff spot after Lake George was crushed by Cambridge 55-6 Friday night. Rensselaer and Fort Edward remain tied at 5-1 and will face off in the final game of the regular season.
Because of thelosses to Fort Edward and Rensselaer, Whitehall would need to win both of its remaining games and have one of those teams lose their final two games to leap frog them in the standings.
That will be no easy task with Whitehall set to travel to undefeated Cambridge this Saturday. The Indians are ranked eighth in the state and have outscored their opponents 297-50. Their closest game was a 29 point victory over Rensselaer.
Cambridge is led by freshmen quarterback Ethan English who has thrown 10 touchdowns against a single interception and completed nearly 61 percent of his passes, and a deep stable of running backs paced by seniors Aaron Mulready, Skyler Saunders, Will Bromirski and junior Matt Parmenter.
Despite Cambridge’s resume and their 41-8 victory over Whitehall last year, Culligan believes the Railroaders have a chance.
“Our kids aren’t focused on the aura of Cambridge. They just want to come out and play football,” Culligan said. “I think we’ve got a chance, it’s going to be a dog fight. If we win, it will be a huge help in seeding (for sectionals).”
Cambridge is one of the rare Class D teams that’s equally adept passing the ball as they are running it, meaning Whitehall will once again have to rely on the 5-2 cover-two scheme they’ve used with much success the last two weeks.
Since changing defenses two weeks ago, Whitehall has only given up 15 points. Offensively, the Railroaders will continue to ride the running attack of Josh Hoagland and Bascue.
“We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing,” Culligan said. “There’s a very good chance we’ll have to see them in a couple of weeks so we’re not going to show them too much. Now, if it’s close at the end of the game, we may open up things and go for the win.”
Whitehall scored early and often in the first half of Friday’s game against Catholic Central.
After shutting down the Crusaders on their first possession, Whitehall marched down the field and jumped ahead 6-0 on a 20 yard run by Josh Hoagland less than five minutes into the game.
The Railroader defense forced a turnover on the following possession and Paxton Peterson made a beautiful catch at the one yard line on a 35 yard halfback option from Josh Hoagland. One play later, Bascue rumbled through the line for a 12-0 lead.
Bascue scored another touchdown on a five yard pass from Justin Hoagland to close out the first quarter and give Whitehall a commanding 18-0 lead.
Catholic Central scored their lone touchdown of the game several plays later on a 55 yard touchdown pass. On the play, Whitehall’s defense was unable to roll their coverage over in time and Brett Fenton got behind the defense for the score.
Whitehall answered right back on the ensuing drive as Josh Hoagland took an inside handoff 40 yards to paydirt.
Hoagland would hit Carl Rehm with a halfback pass later in the quarter and Whitehall would go into the half with a 31-7 lead.
Bascue would add a 20 yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter to make it 37-7.
During the game, several players wore pink socks in recognition of breast cancer awareness month.
Saturday’s game is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. in Cambridge.