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Whitney suffers severe blow in 35-0 win

Rodrigues suffers knee injury
By: Jim Linsdau Placer Herald Sports Editor
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Whitney High football fans found little to cheer about in spite of their 35-0 Sac-Joaquin Section Playoff second round victory over Cosumnes Oaks, Friday. The Wildcats’ outstanding quarterback, Jake Rodrigues, had to be taken off the field on a stretcher after injuring his ankle and breaking his fibula early in the fourth quarter. The blow came on a rather routine run for the Capital Athletic League Player of the Year when he tried to leap over a defender after a good gain. He landed awkwardly on his left leg causing the injury. The team was devastated. Whitney players couldn’t hold back the tears as paramedics came onto the field to attend to the one who was potentially leading them to another section title. Wildcats head coach, Michael Gimenez, and his staff did their best to rally the players in spite of the severe setback. “That’s what he does, he (was) doing what he does,” said Gimenez, as he searched for words to describe what Rodrigues meant to him, and the entire team. “He’s worked so hard to put our team into a situation, and then he’s not able to enjoy the fruits of his labor. I love him like a son, and it’s hard.” In spite of leading the Wildcats to a 25-0 lead in the first half, the signal-caller’s passes seemed a bit off. Although he had one touchdown pass, he was 3-10 for 17 yards, and at one point had six-straight incomplete passes. The ball seemed to sail on him in the cold, night air. As he would often do, he made up for it with his legs by rushing for 28 yards on six carries. He also got solid ground support from running backs Connor Graves, Sutter Choisser, and Jordan Powell. The touchdown pass was also a bit of a circus pass as tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick slapped the ball away from a defender and then caught the rebound in the end zone. Rodrigues’ rhythm seemed to return in the third quarter. He threw for 72 yards on three-straight completions, including a 60-yard bomb to Graves. The win improved Whitney to 10-2, and earned them a trip to Del Oro to take on the No.2 seed Golden Eagles, Friday. Del Oro used a second-half rally to oust Placer, 41-12. It will require a strong team effort for the Wildcats to regroup and work through the emotions and adjustments that will be necessary for that game. “It’s doing the little things. It’s about working hard and just stepping up when the team needs it,” said Choisser after the game. “We’ve got to start over. It’s a new week; we’ve just got to move on, like Gimenez said. It’s hard, though.” Choisser had 100 yards on seven carries, and one TD. Graves totaled 97 yards on the ground rushing 11 times, while Jordan Powell rushed 10 times for 134 yards and one score. Rodrigues had 52 yards on 11 carries. Graves filled in for the injured Rodrigues in the fourth quarter and was 1-2 passing for 12 yards. Kyle McCray, who played quarterback on the junior varsity squad, was brought in for the final three downs of the game. Whitney 35, Cosumnes Oaks 0 Wolfpack 0 0 0 0 – 0 Wildcats 10 15 7 3 – 35 INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS PASSING Cos – A Williams 4-10, 17, A Titman 4-7, 12, M Coleman 0-1. Whi – J Rodrigues 7-26, 102, 2, C Graves 1-2, 16. RUSHING Cos – T Willis 13-41, M Coleman 5-2, A Williams 10-67, P Iniquez 1-4, D Darden 1-5, D Griffith 1-7. Whi – J Rodrigues 11-52, C Graves 11-97, J Powell 10-134, 1, S Choisser 7-100, 1, R Giacomini 1-3. RECEIVING Cos – M Thomas 1-4, D Griffith 4-31, M Rios 2-10, T Willis 1-1, D Darden 1-(-4). Whi – J Cope-Fitzpatrick 3-30, 1, T Torres 2-15, J Powell 1-13, C Graves 1-60, 1. 1st Quarter 9:42, Rodrigues to Cope-Fitzpatrick 7 pass, Urena kick 3:15, Urena 20 field goal 2nd Quarter 9:35, Powell 69 run, Rodrigues to McCray 2-point PAT 0:58, Choisser 46 run, Urena kick 3rd Quarter 8:50, Rodrigues to Graves 60 pass, Urena kick 4th Quarter 5:13, Urena 28 field goal