Whiteland football cruises past Plainfield

Listed at 5-foot-7 and 129 pounds, junior quarterback Kevin Denham is proving to be a right fit for Whiteland.

“Our style of winning is you run the ball to move the chains and throw the ball to score,” Warriors coach Darrin Fisher said.

The host Warriors did both Friday night in a 31-6 Mid-State Conference victory over Plainfield in Mid-State Conference.

Denham threw touchdown passes of 27 yards to senior Jacob Smith and 14 yards to junior Austin Steele. Smith caught three of Denham’s four completions.

“We’ve got something special,” Denham said of his connection with Smith. “I love throwing to him.”

Denham took over early in the third game when senior starter Brand Kunz suffered a season-ending injury.

“Kevin has always had the ability to run the offense,” Fisher said. “He’s a Whiteland kid. He’s been running this offense since he was in second grade. What he’s shown is the leadership, the consistency and the moxie to make plays when things break down. He can do all the things a Whiteland quarterback normally does. He can find open space in the pocket when he needs to. He’s leading the team well and I think our guys.”

His size hasn’t been an issue.

“He’s a competitor. He always has been,” Fisher said.

Senior Quinn Warweg gave the Warriors a 7-0 lead with a 51-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter. Whiteland (4-3, 3-3) boosted the lead to 10-0 on David Mathis’ 10-yard field goal with 1:52 remaining in the first quarter.

The Warriors then caught the Quakers by surprise with an onside kick and went ahead 17-0 on Denham’s 27-yard touchdown pass to Smith with 9:30 left in the second quarter.

“David Mathis played tremendous,” Fisher said. “He had two touchbacks kicking the ball, the 38-yard field goal and the onside kick.”

Whiteland then scored on the first possession of the second half with a 3-yard touchdown run by Landen Wood to make it 24-0, virtually assuring Plainfield (3-5, 2-4) of its third consecutive loss.

“That opening drive in the third quarter was key,” Fisher said. “Our ability to make adjustments at halftime, come out and put points on the ball there were a huge turning point.”

Junior Peyton Emberton led the Warriors’ rushing attack with 125 yards.

“Peyton is our workhorse,” Fisher said. “He’s our battering ram. He and our offensive line, our fullback and our tight end.”

Fisher said he was proud of his team adapting.

“We are injured. We are beat up,” Fisher said. “The guys we thought would be making plays on offense can’t because they aren’t here right now. Quinn Warweg and Jacob Smith have had to go both ways at times.”

Warweg is a starting corner, plays on special teams and has to play some at wingback. Smith has played defensive back and receiver.

“Quinn is not 100 percent healthy, either,” Fisher said. “But it’s October; no one is healthy. It’s about your courage and fortitude now. You have to win in October to play in November.”

Fisher said his teams are 48-14 in October during in this his 17th season as Warriors coach.

Fisher said the challenge for the game was passion.

“Have the courage to take it to the level that we haven’t taken it before,” he said.