When the Cordova Wolves and the Whitehaven Tigers finally met on the gridiron, it was hyped as a battle between two very good defenses. Whitehaven entered the game with two shutouts, and the Wolves have been one of the good surprises this season.
But ultimately, the defense of the Tigers was just too much for Cordova in a 21-0 win for Whitehaven.
The Tiger defense sent a message on the opening drive, capitalizing on a Cordova error on the opening kickoff. Cordova’s kick returner signaled for a fair catch, but allowed the football to hit the ground and it rolled to within 10 yards of the endzone before the Wolves could recover the football.
“Hats off to the guys on defense playing together and as one unit,” said Whitehaven head coach Rodney Saulsberry.
From there, Whitehaven junior LB sacked Cordova QB Cameron Wimberly for a 5-yard loss and move the football back to the 1-yard line. On the very next play, a host of Tigers were able to charge to line and sack Wimberly again in the endzone for a safety (2-0).
“They have tremendous athletes on defense,” said Cordova head coach Marcus Wimberley. “We are shorthanded and there are some changes we have to make personnel-wise. Our guys play very well on defense.”
The Tigers only allowed the Wolves a total of 106 yards for the game. Cordova had one big play in the game a 61-yard reception by junior receiver Brandon Mackey from Wimberly. The Tigers also limited Cordova to just 13 net rushing yards. The defense also had three sacks.
But despite their struggles, Cordova kept at it.
“The mentality is slowing changing,” Wimberley said. “They are believing in what they are doing. They know we are a little shorthanded especially on offense.”
The Tigers have a tradition of having “Doughnuts Mondays” after every time they hand a team a doughnut (shutout). It’s getting to be expensive though and Saulsberry joked that a certain doughnut shop on Elvis Presley Blvd. need to become a sponsor for this tradition. There’s a Krispy Kreme on Elvis Presley.
The Tigers were very balanced on offense, with 141 rushing yards and 142 passing yards. Keyshawn Harris went 14-21 for 142 yards and no interceptions and had completions to eight different receivers.
Meanwhile Cameron Sneed led a steady ground game for the Tigers, rushing for 88 yards including a 25-yard touchdown. Harris also rushed for two short yard touchdowns.
The offensive line along with the running game completely controlled the game. The Tigers have four drive of nine or more plays. The Tigers ran 62 offensive plays compared to only 32 for Cordova. The Tigers ended the game with a 16-play drive.
“We can see the hints of what we want to do on offense,” Saulsberry said. “Our offense is progressing and getting what we want. We are one step away on offense from clicking on all cylinders.”
There was a special spectator in attendance for the game. University of Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt and his running backs coach David Johnson were in Whitehaven earlier to offer all-purpose player Tamarion McDonald a scholarship.
McDonald has verbally committed to Mississippi State. Martavious French has verbally committed to Arkansas and Bryson Eason remains uncommitted — for now. The trio have played together since middle school and have expressed a desire to play together at an SEC school. Arkansas, LSU and now Tennessee have all made offers to the trio.
The Tigers had one of their cleanest games of the season when it comes to penalties. The Tigers only had four penalties for 28 yards and one personal foul penalty occurred very late in the fourth quarter. This has been one of the areas the Tigers have been working to improve upon this season.
Whitehaven will have an extra week to work off the doughnuts and will not play again until Friday October 11 when they host the White Station Spartans. That will be their first home game in five weeks. Cordova will get back to district play as they host Collierville for homecoming on Friday October 4.