Whitefish Bay suffered an early blow in its North Shore Conference battle Friday, losing quarterback Cade Garcia to an injury. But with receiver Alex Anthony assuming the reins under center, the Blue Dukes continued to look strong, moving to 3-1 with a 27-7 victory at foggy Port Washington.
“Any conference win is huge,” Bay coach Jake Wolter said. “Everyone in conference wants to make the playoffs, so it’s one at a time. Going 2-0 in conference is a huge step. Two more to get into the playoffs, but we’ve got some higher aspirations than that. We want to continue going 1-0 every week.”
Despite the first-quarter injury, the Dukes took a 14-0 lead in the second quarter with a touchdown run from Bo Bassindale and a touchdown pass from Anthony to Christopher Caspari.
Port Washington quarterback Tanner Orten kept the ball and ran 57 yards to the Dukes’ 23 yard line in the waning moments of the first half, then threw a touchdown pass to Jacob Lippe in the corner of the end zone for a 14-7 lead at the break. Just 15 seconds remained before half.
Despite the opportunity to seize momentum, the Pirates' opening drive of the second half fizzled, as Orten was sacked on third down.
“I wasn’t too worried about it,” Bay coach Jake Wolter said of the touchdown just before halftime. “They’ve got a heck of a running back and a great quarterback and lineman; they’re a good football team. Their offense hasn’t been stopped really all year, so they’re going to make plays. They’ve got some good athletes, and their quarterback made a great play to get them into position, then 42 made a good catch.”
No one scored in the third quarter, but the Dukes continued rack up yards behind the stellar running of Bassindale, who finally added another touchdown in the fourth.
“With Cade Garcia going down, our quarterback that can wing it all over the place and run as well ... we had to ride (Bassindale), and we rode him to 27 points," Wolter said. "He did a heck of a job."
Bassindale finished with 153 yards rushing.
“I was running hard like my coach always tells me to do, but I have to credit all that to my O-line," he said. "I’d be nothing without their blocks and running behind them. It’s hard when a great player like Cade goes down, but our backup, Alex Anthony, who is also a standout wide receiver, did a great job of picking us up and kept his composure, which was great for us. It feels great to win this. I know Port really wanted it today. It was a good win and a good start to the conference season.”
Whitefish Bay will host Nicolet next weekend, while Port Washington will travel to Cedarburg for a game that could decide the playoff fate of both teams.
“I’m looking that we keep improving,” said Pirates’ coach John Bunyan. “Win or lose, we always try to keep improving. I think we learned a lot about ourselves tonight. Obviously, Whitefish Bay is a really good football team. I felt that we could compete with them.”
Bunyan was encouraged by his team’s touchdown at the end of the first half.
“That was a midline that we ran which was a long run,” he said. “It was a good read by our quarterback. Then it was a simple fade ball to Lippe, who is a good player. I was excited. I told the kids that we’re right where we need to be. We shored up our defense. We were misaligned on some of their long runs in the first half and we shored things up. We moved the football to start the drive as well, we just didn’t finish. They pulled away in the fourth quarter a little bit. We had to start throwing the ball a little bit more than we normally do, but we learned a lot. I’m proud of my team, they worked hard.”