Although the Perryton Rangers go into week 2 sporting a 0-2 record, they’ll present another challenging task for the (1-1) Wildcats. The 3A Rangers field an experienced group that features 13 returning starters from last year’s area finalist squad.
The Wildcats must transition from dealing with Stratford’s ground-and-pound offense to keeping up Perryton’s fast-paced offense. The Rangers run a very similar spread offense to what Wildcat fans see from their team every Friday night.
At the heart of the Rangers’ up-tempo offense is senior wide receiver Jake Whittenberg. The versatile 6’1, 190-pounder keeps defenses honest by being a threat in multiple spots on the field. He hauled in 639 passing yards last season, while also leading the team in rushing with 498 yards on the ground. The Wildcat defense must zone in and keep an eye on where coach David Flowers and the Rangers line up Whittenberg, as they constantly try to give him the ball in open space.
Junior quarterback Justin Ventura will be in charge of finding Whittenberg and running Perryton’s spread offense. He passed for over 1,200-yards last season and his upside is another key reason why the Rangers are expected to win District 1-3A. The Rangers struggled in key moments during last week’s 21-35 loss to Bushland. The Falcons kept them out of the end zone on seven of their eight trips to the red zone and held them to 3of 15 on third downs. That is one area that Canadian must capitalize on, as they had trouble producing crucial stops against the Elks.
On the offensive side of the ball, Ben Arbuckle and his cast should have an easier time making plays against Perryton’s stack defense. Stratford’s size up front made it difficult for the Cats to get any kind of running game going, as Wildcat backs only carried the ball a total of nine times. Coach Chris Koetting expects Chance Cook and Marc Marquez to make more of an impact tomorrow night.
Chance’s brother Sawyer Cook provided one of the bright spots in the Wildcats 21-22 loss to the Elks. The inside wide receiver broke out to the tune of 97 yards and one touchdown on 10 receptions. Sawyer proves to be yet another weapon for Arbuckle, and that will make defenses think twice before they send double-coverage at Boston Hudson.
Arbuckle picked the Rangers defense apart lasts season, throwing for 398-yards and three touchdowns. The only downside of that performance is that the Rangers picked him off twice. Coming off another two interception game, Arbuckle and the rest of the Cats are poised to eliminate those type of negative plays. While the Wildcats were only penalized twice for 20-yards in last week’s loss, they couldn’t overcome their three turnovers.
The Wildcats’ ability to bounce back with a win will depend highly on how they handle Whittenberg and on how well they can hang on to the ball.
Photo courtesy of Alan Hale