SOUTH WHITLEY – A 56-0 shutout loss at Churubusco was not what the Whitko Wildcats had in mind when they opened up the season a year ago.

A winless season was not in the plans, either, but with the past behind them, the Wildcats looked to improve and open the 2018 season on a better note.

Friday night’s game at Ryan Huff Memorial Field would be a great starting point to make that turnaround, but the Eagles would not let the Cats have their way.

Busco’s Nathaniel Keener carried the ball into the end zone twice as the Eagles shut out the ‘Cats again 28-0 in South Whitley.

“The guys played a heck of a lot better than they did last year,” said third-year Whitko coach Jeff Sprunger. “You take away the opening kickoff, now we’re down 21-0. You take away a bonehead play by our safety on a missed coverage, and now we’re down 14. We’re going to learn how to finish drives, finish plays and just get after it.”

Things went south in a hurry, as junior wide out Sam Wood took the opening kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown.

Just before halftime, Jake Fulk hauled in a 31-yard touchdown pass from Tom Richards to put the Eagles up three scores.

Whitko senior halfback Zakk Neer was one of the bright spots for the Cats; he carried the ball 12 times for 63 yards in the loss.

Defensively, senior linebacker Cayden Nunley made a spectacular one-handed interception off of a Richards pass early in the third quarter.

With Nunley’s pick, the Cats would start the drive in Eagles territory. A pair of nice runs from Neer put the ‘Cats at Busco’s 1-yard line. A flurry of consecutive penalties (two illegal shifts, one delay of game) would end the Cats’ threat and keep them from the scoring column.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Wildcats got into the backfield five times to force negative yardage on the Eagles, including a sack from junior defensive lineman Daulton Webb.

Despite what the scoreboard showed, Sprunger believes there is massive improvement compared to a year ago.

“Our talk through camp has been: ‘Believe’,” said Sprunger. “Believe that we are capable of competing. I told them, ‘By God, I’m never going to stop believing in you, if you never stop believing in me, you just keep fighting for me all the time, I’m going to keep after you all the way.'

“We’re going to win some ballgames.”

Whitko returns to action on Friday as they host their other Whitley County rival,Columbia City, for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

Churubusco returns home to face Lakeland in Week 2 action.



CHURUBUSCO 28, WHITKO?0

C    7    14    0    7    —    28

W    0    0     0    0     —    0



    C    W

1st downs    15    10

Rushing yds    170    71

Passing yds    115    24

Comp-Att-Int    7-8-1    2-7-0

Total yds    285    95

Fumbles/lost    2/0    4/1

Penalties/yds    6/52    5-25



First Quarter

C – Sam Wood 89 return (Joey Emenhiser kick), 11:46

Second Quarter

C – Nathaniel Keener 9 run (Emenhiser kick), 7:05

C – Jake Fulk 20 pass from Tom Richards (Emenhiser kick), :35

          Fourth Quarter

C – Keener 2 run (Emenhiser kick), 3:31



INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing — Churubusco, Keener 18-77, Richards 7-49, Wood 3-12, Emenhiser 2-21, Gage Kelly 1-10, Jake Fulk 1-1; Whitko, Zakk Neer 12-63, Dominick Moseley 10-32, Zach Gardener 7-24, Riley Young 3-16

Passing — Churubusco, Richards 7-8-115, 1 TD, 1 INT; Whitko, Mosele 2-7-24

Receiving — Churubusco, Wood 3-26, Emenhiser 2-36, Fulk 1-31, Blake?Trostel 1-22; Whitko, Mitchell?Connor 1-20, Isaiah Kyles 1-4

Records: Churubusco 1-0, Whitko 0-1