Season, varsity career comes to an end for seniors

Following Whitehall’s season-ending 54-28 loss to Rensselaer last Friday, head coach Justin Culligan spoke to his seniors about where they had come from and what they had accomplished in four years.

He reminded them how their first season they had won only a single game but in three years since, had posted winning records and three consecutive trips to the Class D Section II playoffs.

“They’re helping us get to where we need to be,” Culligan said. “We’re consistently winning now and these seven seniors were key. Their leadership has been unbelievable.”

In Saturday’s Class D semifinal game, Whitehall’s seniors got the team off to a fast start, scoring on their first two possessions, but for every punch they threw, Rensselaer countered.

On their first possession, the Railroaders drove 60 yards in eight plays, punctuated by Paul Hanna’s 13-yard touchdown run, to take an early 6-0 advantage. But the Rams countered with a 77-yard pass from Justin Forgea to Tyler Oliver to tie the game.

Four minutes later, Josh Hoagland gave the Railroaders an eight-point lead as he scored on a seven-yard run with conversion, but the Rams answered again when Forgea escaped the pocket and scampered 31 yards to tie the game. On its next possession, Rensselaer’s Seth Butler took a handoff 84 yards for a touchdown and the Rams never looked back.

“They’re a good team,” Culligan said. “They’re 7-1 for a reason. We thought we’d be able to run the ball and control the clock but they stopped us when they needed to and their kids made some big plays. They did what they had to do to win.”

Trailing 22-14 early in the second quarter, Whitehall had a chance to seize momentum after a pass interference penalty gave them a first down at the six-yard line. But the Rams stopped Hoagland on fourth and goal from the one yard and took the ensuing drive 99 yards for a touchdown and a 29-14 lead at halftime.

Rensselaer scored on both of its possessions in the third quarter and was able to hold Whitehall in check.

 

Winning coach

“I thought we played very well,” said Rensselaer head coach Joel Preston, who guided his team to the Class D “super bowl” for the fifth consecutive season. “We started a little slow defensively and they were able to hurt us in the flats. Their quarterback did a nice job of getting outside the pocket and hit the guys in the flats but we went to man and that hurt them.”

Justin Hoagland finished the game with 140 passing yards but Rensselaer was able to hold Whitehall’s ground-and-pound offense in check. Hanna finished with 43 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries and Josh Hoagland finished with 133 yards and 3 touchdowns on 42 carries. The Railroaders, who have broken off big runs in bunches this season, only had three runs longer than 10 yards.

“We have good team speed and tackle well. Hoagland is a great player and if you don’t tackle well you won’t beat them but we got three or four hats on the ball every play,” Preston said.

Despite the score, the game was as physical as any Whitehall played all season. Several players on both teams were nicked up and left with injuries.

“We had some significant injuries but that’s this group of kids, they fought all the way to the end,” Culligan said.

Many of the players were visibly emotional following the game as they realized their season and their varsity careers had come to an end.

“It was a hell of a four years, but we just didn’t get over the hump,” said Hoagland, who finished the season with 1,496 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns.

“It’s so amazing to be part of the program, to have turned it around. It used to be top-notch and we got it going again. It feels great to be part of it,” said Paxton DeLorme. “You couldn’t have done it with a better group of guys.”

His head coach agreed.

“This is one of the funniest groups of kids to be around that I’ve had in 19 years of coaching,” Culligan said. “This was an unbelievable group of kids. It’s hard to lose a group like this.”

Comments

comments

Read more in this week's Times in newsstands now or click here to read right now with our e-edition.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Rain stops, the park rocks

Magill and Macri 3 cover

By Jamie Norton The skies opened up five minutes before Daryl Magill – one of the biggest draws of the […]

Dresden works to eradicate invasive weeds

Water chestnut harvester redit VT DEC

By Dan King The town of Dresden has started its annual effort to remove invasive water chestnuts from Lake Champlain, […]

Man walking to D.C. to ‘raise awareness’

don

By Dan King Don Duncan may be 65 years old but he’s not letting that stop him from raising awareness […]

Town, village to pledge support for bike trail

Canal Trail

By Dan King A multi-use trail from Waterford to Whitehall is expected to receive letters of support from both the […]

Area man to hold talk about Robin Williams

By Linda Ellingsworth It’s been almost a year since the untimely passing of comic great Robin Williams, and a local […]

Ride to benefit veterans

By Christina Scanlon When the bikers hit the road for the third annual ride to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project […]

Macuras ‘my favorite’

By Jamie Norton Daryl Magill has been lighting up the pagoda at Veterans Memorial Park for years. And every year, […]

Missing teen found

Two seemingly unrelated cases involving teens from Fair Haven, Vt., converged last week, resulting in both the arrest of a […]

Meet-n-greet famous grapplers

Brodus Clay

By Dan King Former WWE wrestler Brodus Clay will be the highlight of the World of Hurt Wrestling event tomorrow […]

Hartford to host annual sale

By Dan King There will be bargains galore next weekend in the “Heart of Washington County.” Hartford will host its […]

Despite tickets, drivers still disobey law

By Christina Scanlon A recent upswing in cell phone tickets in the village of Granville is due, in part, to […]

Teen drivers learn lessons

By Joshua Bassett and Christina Scanlon Brooke Perry let out a shriek and Justin Nardone got an orange safety cone […]