It was 92 degrees at kickoff at Whitney High School and a balmy 86 by halftime. Those temperatures were certainly not the frightening numbers some weather forecasters threw onto the airwaves.
Cooler heads prevailed and Friday night those belonged to the No. 2 Granite Bay, who narrowly avoided an upset by the No. 15 Wildcats with a 24-10 win in front of a spirited home crowd – the first since Paul Doherty was fired as coach last month for repeated Sac-Joaquin Section rules violations.
“I can see how Granite Bay could be thinking ‘Hey, these guys are on the ropes a little bit, in flux a little bit,’ ” said new Wildcats coach Jesse Armas. “But I’m an on-campus guy. I’ve been here a long time. I think the kids have done a terrific job of taking me in. We have the same offense, the same game plan. We’re just rolling.”
Until Evan Tattersall got rolling late in the game.
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The Grizzlies linebacker and running back was quiet until he turned a short swing pass from Jade Foddrill into a 75-yard score that tied the score 10-10, and then scored the game winner on a 3-yard run with a little more than four minutes remaining. Chase Garmon added an 11-yard scoring run to end the 21-point fourth-quarter barrage.
“We talked to our guys about just that,” Grizzlies coach Jeff Evans said of the emotion coming from the Whitney side. “There’s always an angle somewhere and (Whitney coaches) have done a really good job getting their guys together and rallying around one another. We told our guys to expect a raucous crowd tonight.”
Whitney’s Nick Eaton scored on a 17-yard pass from Preston Eklund in the second quarter.
Whitney and Granite Bay High School administrators agreed to push the varsity kickoff back 30 minutes to 8 p.m. and extend halftime by five minutes.
Whitney athletic director Jason Feuerbach said his school paid for the rentals of four large water misters, two stationed at either end of each bench, a large swamp cooler per side and a large livestock feed trough that was filled with ice water at all times if a player, referee or even a fan needed to be dunked in case of heat-related illnesses.
“We had to dial back some practices,” Evans said of Grizzlies practices this week. “We have the luxury of being able to practice in the morning and we did that Wednesday. It’s difficult because you want to get everything in, get everything going but you don’t want to wear guys out or get any heat-related injuries.”
The Grizzlies (2-0) now have half of their win total from 2016.