E.A. Sports Today

For the win

White Plains snaps 24-game losing streak with victory over Wellborn; Harris clears 1,000-yard barrier against former team in final game

White Plains coach Chris White looks down the sideline as the seconds wind down on the Wildcats’ victory over Wellborn. Below, Pat Harris leads the team in its post-game cheer.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Pat Harris has been leading the White Plains’ breakdown huddle all season with the same cheer. Thursday night, the message changed.

For nine weeks Harris and the Wildcats have been chanting “I believe that we can win.” On this warm and ultimately historic night, however, the senior running back changed the words to reflect the significance of the night.

“I believe that we just won,” was what the Wildcats happily chanted into the night.

White Plains ended one of the state’s longest losing streaks — 24 games — with an 18-0 victory over Wellborn in the season finale for both teams.

“Woooo, I’m glad 24 games is over, I can tell you that,” Wildcats head coach Chris White said. “Glad now to start one. We’ve got one. Now let’s see if we can get another.

“I’ve had confidence in these guys all year and they’ve had confidence in each other; if they didn’t, they’d have already quit. We turned it around in the weight room. We started to turn it around this year at practice. We started (turning it around) for three and a half quarters for nine ball games and we finally put it together for four (quarters) tonight. That’s what it’s all about.”

The Wildcats’ last victory came over Pleasant Valley in the fifth game of the 2015 season, White’s first as their head coach. Their last shutout came on Nov. 1, 2013 – 60 games ago –31-0 against Collinsville that gave them a 5-5 season. They had won just three games since – before Thursday.

They scored two touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 12-0 halftime lead Thursday. Their defense held Wellborn to 148 yards.

“This is the greatest feeling I’ve ever had on a football field, the greatest feeling I ever could have on a football field,” quarterback Ryan Bannister said.

“It’s the best feeling in my life,” said sophomore Ethan Bozarth, whose two sacks led the defense.

Both Harris and White got the water bucket treatment after the game. Harris even got a ride on his teammates’ shoulder pads.

Harris, who transferred with his brother Jaden from Wellborn in February and was almost immediately installed as a team captain, rushed for 115 yards against his former team and became the Wildcats’ first 1,000-yard rusher since anyone in the program can remember.

He ran for one touchdown and caught a 20-yard pass from Bannister for another score. Jaden Harris scored the Wildcats’ other touchdown to open the scoring.

“It meant the world to me, me and my brother,” Harris said. “We had to win this game; out of any other game we had to win this one. It’s our senior year. It’s our last game. I didn’t want to go 0-10. I wanted to win the game first; 94 yards (he needed for 1,000) came second.”

His teammates were keeping a close watch on the milestone, counting down the yardage with every carry in the second half. He reached the milestone with six minutes left in the game.

The Wildcats were in danger of going winless for the second year in a row had they not beaten the Panthers, which White admitted “could have caused a lot of problems” going forward because of all the gains they had made this season. They were close to break through before — in four of their losses this season they had the lead or were tied with eight minutes to play.

There really was nothing different in the way they approached the previous nine games and Thursday night. They were always as physical although they might have been a little more aggressive against the Panthers. And, they didn’t turn it over.

“We just knew our time was going to come,” Bannister said. “We just had to pull through to make it happen. This was probably one of the best games we’ve played as a team together and (the timing) couldn’t be better.”

[table id=87 /]

Wellborn 0 0 0 0 — 0
White Plains 0 12 6 0 — 18

WP – Jaden Harris 5 run (run failed), 9:27 2Q
WP – Pat Harris 2 run (run failed), 2:07 2Q
WP – Pat Harris 20 pass from Ryan Bannister (pass failed), 7:00 3Q

You must be logged in to post a comment Login