Members of the offensive line trotted out to the practice field behind the Whitworth Fieldhouse, their masks on as they began their first practice in a fall. They did so with no certain plans to play a football game anytime soon.
In a season of social distancing, there is irony in the Whitworth athletics department celebrating the fact that nearly all their coaches can now – after years spent in five different buildings – be together under the same roof.
For as much as spring sports were disrupted when NCAA Division III sports shut down in March, fall sports weren’t spared, either.
With 21 varsity sports offered, the Whitworth athletic department has produced no shortage of decorated athletes in the past 20 years.
Many winter and spring athletes at Whitworth had their seasons cut short earlier this year due to the pandemic, but there was hope that come fall, a return to normalcy would be possible.
As Division I conferences have made moves toward a conference-only football season this fall, Division III programs like Whitworth face uncertainty of their own.
Whitworth will host thClaremont-Mudd-Scripps at noon Saturday, its first playoff home game since 2006.
The Whitworth Pirates put an exclamation point on their undefeated regular season Saturday.
Coach Rod Sandberg told his Whitworth Pirates football team this week that their season is half over.
On an afternoon when he wasn’t great, Whitworth quarterback Leif Ericksen made the throws he had to. And when he had to, he looked for Garrett McKay.
The 12th-ranked Whitworth football team will take the field at the Pine Bowl on Saturday in need of one more win to claim the Northwest Conference championship and a spot in the playoffs.
All that stands between Whitworth (7-0) and a playoff appearance is a win against either of the bottom two teams in the NWC standings: Lewis & Clark on Saturday, or Willamette the week after. One win clinches one of the 26 automatic playoff bids awarded to conference champions.