It was 1950 vs. 2016, and Old School beat New School on Thursday night as the Inderkum Tigers’ wing-T offense outdueled the Whitney Wildcats’ spread offense 42-7 in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoff opener in North Natomas.
The No. 8-seeded Tigers used the rare-yet-still-effective offense that was all the rage during Harry S. Truman’s presidency to grind on the Wildcats’ defense. A pass play out of the wing-T used to be considered sacrilege, but when you have the talent and speed that Inderkum coach Terry Stark can deploy, it’s a sin not to pass occasionally. Tigers senior quarterback Trajon Cotton hit Isaah Crocker for touchdown passes of 45 and 14 yards.
Destynd Lewis took Inderkum’s first play of the second half 80 yards for a score, giving the Tigers a 35-0 lead.
“If you look at our two teams, I think we average something like 320 yards a game running it and they average that much passing a game,” Stark said. “Our passing game is like 130 and they’re running game is about that.”
But the Tigers’ defense, especially the secondary led by Tarik Bible, stifled the Wildcats’ spread offense and forced four fumbles. Wildcats quarterback Jake Cruz entered the playoffs with 25 touchdown passes. He couldn’t find the long strike or sustain many drives because the Tigers’ defense controlled all three levels – the line, linebacking and secondary. It wasn’t until a minute remained in the third quarter that Whitney scored, when Cruz found Braden Bedwell alone in the end zone for a 19-yard score.
“We’ve played good pass coverage all year long,” said Stark. “But we haven’t faced a spread offense like this at all.”
“They have a lot of big-time players,” Whitney coach Paul Doherty said of the Tigers. “They’re big, they’re long and they’re physical. We have to take advantage of the opportunities that we do get. You can’t always dictate those things, but you have to capitalize.”
The No. 9-seeded Wildcats ended their season 6-5 after scratching to a fourth-place finish in the Capital Valley Conference. They were one of five CVC teams to make the playoffs. Injuries on both sides of the ball led to a three-game losing streak to end the Wildcats’ regular season.
Inderkum, 9-2, won the Tri-County Conference championship and is among the most successful postseason teams in the Sac-Joaquin Section. Inderkum has made the playoffs for 11 straight years and has never lost in the first round. But the Tigers are also 0-3 in section championship games. They will play the winner of Friday’s Sacramento vs. Stagg game in Stockton. Sacramento High is the top-seeded team in Division II.
Mark Billingsley is a Carmichael-based freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @editorwriter001.