Kicking field goals is a risky proposition for most high school football teams with all that can go wrong on the play and there being few kickers capable of putting the ball between the uprights consistently.
Marcus Whitman seems to be the exception, having had reliable kickers for several years now. Ben Sennett booted a 33-yard field goal with plenty of room to spare, lifting the Wildcats to a 3-0 win over Lyons Friday night. It was the first field goal of the junior's career.
"I told (coach) I could make the kick and I felt strongly about it," Sennett said. "It felt awesome (coming off my foot). It feels amazing."
Whitman's defense held Lyons to just 31 yards of total offense in the shutout. Offensively, the Wildcats rushed for 200 yards, including 80 from Lane Brown, 55 from Tate Mangiarelli and 36 from Lyell Mincer.
The Lions didn't record a first down in the opening half. Whitman drove the ball inside Lyons' 30-yard line three times in the first half, but turned the ball over on downs twice and ran out of time on their final drive before halftime.
Lyons' first possession of the second half started at Marcus Whitman's 27-yard line after a blocked punt. A sack pushed the Lions back and Sennett intercepted Nicholas Fera's deep pass at the 1-yard line.
The teams traded punts until late in the fourth quarter when Whitman started its final drive on Lyons' 43. The Wildcats eventually faced a fourth-and-three from the 15.
After a timeout, Whitman coach Matt Silco confidently sent out his field-goal unit. Kris Sennett did a good job to get the hold down on a tough snap to handle and his younger brother blasted it through the uprights.
"We've been blessed with kickers here with Tyler Dancause last year, Jamie Bassage, Clay Wilson and some of those guys a couple years ago," Silco said. "Ben has picked right up where they left off. It's something he takes pride in and he works a lot on in the offseason. He did a good job."
The field goal left 2:02 on the clock and Lyons started at their own 35. The Lions reached the Wildcats' 48, but couldn't advance any further. Wildcats defensive end Bryan Quayle recorded a sack on third down and fellow lineman Matt Hall put on the pressure on a fourth-down incompletion to seal the game. Whitman recorded eight sacks on the night.
"We were just all over the place," Quayle said.
"It feels fantastic," Hall added. "We've been working so hard all season. Our defense played our butts off and so did the offense. We've just got to keep rolling."
Fera finished with 73 passing yards for Lyons with receiver Deon Taver catching five pases for 70 yards. Lions coach Randy Wadhams said linebacker Kyle Alexanian played a great game on defense.
Page 2 of 2 - "I thought defensively we played well," Wadhams said. "They've got a good kicker and that's what you need when it comes down to a game like we were playing tonight."
Marcus Whitman (1-2) visits Mynderse at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27. Lyons (0-3) hosts Clyde-Savannah at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28.