White Knoll crushes River Bluff to begin region play

Posted 9/30/23

It was total domination on both sides of the ball for White Knoll as the Timberwolves prowled into River Bluff’s home and devoured the Gators 40-0 Sept. 29. 

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White Knoll crushes River Bluff to begin region play


It was total domination on both sides of the ball for White Knoll as the Timberwolves prowled into River Bluff’s home and devoured the Gators 40-0 Sept. 29. 

“We don't have all the bells and whistles, and we don't have a stadium like this,” White Knoll head coach Nick Pelham said. “We have everything we need to keep building a great program at White Knoll. I'm just proud of how hard they've been able to work.”

White Knoll found success from both its passing and rushing attacks, combining for 467 yards. Meanwhile, River Bluff had almost no success on offense finishing the game with 72 total yards. 

Quarterback Landon Sharpe played a strong game completing 12 of 17 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns. His only blemish on the night came in the third quarter when he threw an interception to Hayden Cushman.

Running back Tiyon Fanning continued to shine for the Timberwolves. He rushed for 72 yards on 13 carries. 

Fanning scored his 10th total touchdown on the season, but it wasn’t from a handoff. Instead, Fanning passed for the score, connecting on a 49-yard deep ball with Hasan Lee.

“I talk about what I’ve learned from Coach Knotts, and what I’ve learned working for Coach Knotts is you better have the next two to three trick plays that you're constantly working on,” Pelham said. “So I remind our offensive staff over and over and over, what are your next tricks? What are your next two tricks … we've got another batch coming up.”

River Bluff quarterback Parker Murray failed to find a rhythm, completing 5 of 11 passes for just 26 yards. They failed to get anything going on the ground with Toriaun Leaphart, their leading rusher on the night, gaining 20 yards on five carries. 

“It's nights like this that football becomes fun,” Pelham said. “Jaiden Kimble, we've been working on a few pressures. We've been working on a few stunts, and he did them beautifully tonight, and he had great plays. And just to look on in his eyes when a great player does something great. It's just a high for me.”

White Knoll built a commanding lead early by scoring 17 points in the first quarter. River Bluff looked overwhelmed on defense, failing to prevent chunk plays. 

On the game’s first drive, White Knoll went down the field and made a 35-yard field goal courtesy of kicker Jordy Aguilera. Then, after the defense recovered a fumble on the opening Gators drive, Fanning and Lee made their connection. 

The final touchdown of the quarter came off a Gators turnover on downs. White Knoll started the drive on their 34-yard line and capped the drive off with a 20-yard rushing touchdown from Kimble to end the period. 

The Timberwolves kept their foot on the gas in the second quarter and doubled their point total by halftime. 

The first scoring drive of the second came on the first White Knoll possession. The team went 31 yards down the field and then finished the drive when Kimble ran in a 25-yard rush out of the wildcat. 

Sharpe passed for his first touchdown of the game when he found Austin Cunningham to put his team up 31-0 in the final minute of the half. 

White Knoll managed to add three more points to its lead before the break thanks to a successful and unintentional onside kick recovery. 

“We weren't trying to kick an onside kick,” Pelham said. “We were trying to squib, but we have a freshman kicker, and a couple kicking coaches that we need to make sure we work a little bit harder with that. With that little detail.”

The Timberwolves quickly pushed the ball down the field and set up Aguilera for a 25-yard chip shot, extending the lead to 34 at the break. 

River Bluff had possession to start the second half but went three and out. The Gators' defense made its biggest play of the night on the following White Knoll drive when Cushman picked Sharpe.

White Knoll spent most of the second half running the ball to chew the clock. The team did manage to find the endzone one more time in the game's final period. 

Caleb Geronomi broke free from his man and pulled in a 20-yard pass from Sharpe. White Knoll opted to go for two but failed to convert, giving the team a 40-0 lead. 

It was another dominant performance this season for White Knoll. The offense continues to be on fire, having scored at least 40 in every game this season, and defensively, the team halts opposing offenses, allowing no more than 15 points in any game this season and forcing two shutouts. 

White Knoll picked up its first region win of the season and improved its overall record to 6-0. Pelham said this is where he told his team they could be three seasons ago when the Timberwolves finished 0-6. 

“I promised these kids 900 days ago that if you do it this way, you can become a championship team,” Pelham said. “I don't know exactly what championship means, but you can see the glimpses of it in our kids and how they play and how they execute.”

The Timberwolves will return home next week for a game against a struggling Dutch Fork team. White Knoll has not beaten Dutch Fork since 2009, a season before Silver Foxes head coach Tom Knotts joined the program. 

“They're one of the best programs in the country,” Pelham said. “They're amazing, but the rest of our region has really picked up football and has really become better programs, and it's a battle every single night.”

White Knoll football, River Bluff football, Nick Pelham, Caleb Geronomi, Landon Sharpe, Hasan Lee, Parker Murray, Jaiden Kimble, Hayden Cushman, Austin Cunningham, Jordy Aguilera, Tiyon Fanning, Toriaun Leaphart,


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