The Whitehaven Tigers defense takes pride in shutting out opponents. Every Monday after keeping an opponent scoreless they receive doughnuts. The Tigers defeated the Central Warriors 23-0 at Whitehaven Stadium on Friday.
The Tigers have four shutouts this season and improved their record to 7-2 overall and 1-0 in Region 8 6A District play.
With the Tigers defense in a shutout frame of mind, the Warriors could not get into any type of rhythm. Central managed only 87 total yards for the game – 24 rushing and 63 passing. The defense also had six quarterback sacks and one interception.
“Those guys were hunting,” Whitehaven head coach Rodney Saulsberry said of his defense. “They were hunting the football. It was Jaylen Sanders’ birthday and he had a big game. The game is won up front and we played well on both sides of the ball.”
The shutout was punctuated with a goal line stand in the first half.
“It was great for momentum,” Saulsberry said. “To not give them anything going into the half and to give us something going into the half was big.”
It was the second consecutive week the Warriors had been blanked. The Warriors, who only lost two games last season, fell to 4-3 overall and 0-1 in the Region 8 6A District standings.
The Tigers’ offense rode big plays into the end zone. With less than two minutes into the game, Keyshaun Lewis ran straight up the middle on second down for a 33-yard touchdown that gave Whitehaven the early lead.
Chris Witherspoon has been the Tigers’ workhorse this season, leading the team in total rushing yards. He got on the scoreboard with a 15-yard touchdown sprint with 2:37 left in the first quarter. However, he had only 27 yards the rest of the game.
A play that typified the kind of night it was for the Warriors at first looked like an opportunity. A mishandled snap by Whitehaven put the football on the turf but Lewis scooped up the loose ball up and scampered 61 yards for another touchdown. He was Tigers’ leading rusher, with 115 yards and two touchdowns.
“That is why you have (multiple) guys,” Saulsberry said, referring to Lewis. “Sometimes your number is called. Keyshaun is always ready. We are bringing back another young guy tonight Cameron Sneed. This is the first game he has played. We love that three-head monster back there.”
The Warriors made a quarterback change to Darirn Turner. The change was made for two reasons. The first was to try to light a spark for the Warriors. The second was to give Turner some snaps, because the starting quarterback, Chauncey Hopkins, is a senior.
“We had some opportunities, but we did not take advantage of them,” Central head coach Lynord Crutchfield said. “They (Whitehaven) capitalized off our mistakes, but we did not capitalize off their mistakes. When you are playing against a really good team like Whitehaven that is the outcome. We got into the red zone three or four different times, but we were not able to capitalize off of it. When they needed to make a play they did and we didn’t. “
Saulsberry said his Whitehaven Tigers still have some work to do.
“I like the way our defense played. We had two goal line stands; now we have to work to not letting them get down to the goal line. We will take the result. Anytime we don’t allow them to score we have a great chance to win. We are learning to work together to make sure the offense, defense and special teams all come together as one.”
NEXT: Both teams are off this week because of fall break for Shelby County Schools. When they return to play, Central will face the undefeated Germantown Red Devils. The Tigers will travel to play White Station.