Breaking records: Pirates claim second place in conference and a spot in NCAA tournament

The Pirates football team closed the regular season by beating the Lewis & Clark Pioneers, 47-19 on Saturday, Nov. 14, at home. The team finished second in the Northwest Conference and achieved a 9-1 overall record. This marks the fifth time the Pirates have collected nine wins in a season. The Pirates’ season resulted in at-large seed, advancing them to the NCAA 32-team tournament.

The match featured two teams on the opposite ends of the conference. The Pioneers came into the final game without a single win throughout the season. The Pirates did not break the pattern by gaining 531 total yards compared to the Pioneer’ 349.

Offensively, the Pirates started fast, scoring touchdowns on their first four possessions in the first quarter. Sophomore quarterback Ian Kolste threw two of the touchdowns in the first quarter, including a 50-yard pass to freshman wide receiver Mason Elms. Kolste finished the game with 341 passing yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He completed 21 of 27 passes, despite playing with a broken finger on his throwing hand.

In his first career start, senior wide receiver Christopher Forrest contributed five receptions, 74 yards and two touchdown catches to help the Pirates seal the deal.

The Pirates also took advantage an 174-107 edge in rushing yards and capitalizing on a 4.7 yards- per-carry average.

The Pirates' defense held the Pioneers to 349 total yards, sacked the quarterback four times and came away with an interception. Whitworth had a 28-20 edge in first downs, in addition to scoring four touchdowns before Lewis & Clark had three first downs in the first quarter.

After Kolste found Forrest in the end zone for the second time, freshman place-kicker Rehn Reiley kicked a 46-yard field goal, capping a 37-6 lead at the half. Reiley made 14 field goals this season, including four from a distance of 45 yards or more, breaking the previous single-season record for the team which was nine field goals.

“To see the team gain confidence in each other and themselves was just a lot of fun,” Pirates Head Coach Rod Sandberg said. “Especially in the first half of the season.”

The Pirates will face the Linfield Wildcats Nov. 21, at 3 p.m. for their first game of the NCAA tournament. A full bracket can be found at the NCAA website.


Josiah VanWingerden

Staff Writer

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Brett Moser inspires teammates to be #MoserStrong

Sports have always been an important part of sophomore Brett Moser’s life. Playing sports, watching sports, learning and diving into a sport was and still is something that brings Moser happiness.

“Sports mean everything to me; sports are my life,” Moser said. “If I’m not playing, I’m watching. If I’m not watching, I’m on the ESPN app just looking stu up and trying to learn more.”

Playing both football and baseball at Moses Lake High School, Moser racked up quite a few awards and recognitions. His junior year of football, he was awarded first-team wide receiver and first-team in baseball as a shortstop. His senior year he was awarded first-team and all-state in football and baseball and was also a team captain in both.


“I’ve been playing baseball since I can remember,” Moser said. “With football I’ve been playing since...third grade.”

Moser was excited to come to Whitworth and get the opportunity to play both the sports he devoted a large part of his life to in high school. However, toward the end of his freshman year of college, on his dad’s birthday, Moser headed to the doctor after discovering a lump on his stomach. After getting it checked and tested, the doctor concluded that it was a tumor touching a renal artery. Moser was then sent to Seattle for further testing in search of a further diagnosis.

“I had really good doctors who were able to gure out what it was very quickly,” Moser said. “They found out it was testicular [cancer].”

With this diagnosis, Moser started a nine-week journey with chemotherapy. Throughout those nine weeks, chemo was distributed in three sessions—each a full week long lasting four hours— each day. For the remaining two weeks, the chemo would be every Monday for three hours. Moser went into surgery a couple of weeks after this routine. The purpose of the 10 hour surgery was to remove the cancer and a kidney.

Head football coach Rod Sandberg spoke highly of Moser and the things that Moser has personally taught him.

“Brett is so positive and strong-willed,” Sandberg said. “He also has an incredible amount of confidence. It is hard for us to imagine what he has gone through at such a young age, but his confidence is inspiring to all of us and to take his perspective is important to our entire team.”

Since the surgery, Moser has been on a low fat diet and regaining his strength now that he is cancer free.

“It’s gone and there is a 98 percent chance that it won’t come back,” Moser said. “Going from being able to do stuff everyday to barely being able to walk and getting fatigued so easily has probably been my biggest struggle in this.”

Moser spoke highly about his two teams which were his main support systems. During his freshman year at Whitworth, Moser played football and baseball, contributing to both teams in important ways.

“It’s so awesome to have so many people supporting me; it really helps,” Moser said. “It’s really cool because some of my closest friends are on the football team so I get a lot of support from them and even the coaches. During one of my chemo sessions, Sandberg and his family came down and hung out with me so that was really appreciated.”

The football team has made Moser an important part of their mindset this season by starting the hashtag #MoserStrong and printing it on the back of their team shirts. The baseball team has also been keeping Moser in their thoughts by wearing bracelets during their preseason.

“‘Moser Strong’ is a vivid reminder to take some perspective in our everyday lives,” Sandberg said. “It is a reminder that life is bigger than school and football, that there are many things more important than all those things. He is so strong and such an inspiration to us. He is inspiring us everyday and we keep ‘Moser Strong’ as a reminder to us of his inspiration.”

Moser plans to return to play both football and baseball next year. His teammates are excited to get him back, but also are thankful for the lessons Moser has taught them through this journey.

“He has had such a great spirit throughout all of this,” sophomore JT Phelan said. Phelan plays both football and baseball with Moser and describes him as “hilarious, caring, and a punk.”

Moser has not only been an inspiration to his friends and relatives, but has inspired an entire team and community to be “Moser Strong.”


McKinley Powers

Staff Writer

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Football defeats Pacific Lutheran for first time in five years

The Pine Bowl was packed with visiting parents for Family Weekend last Saturday when the Whitworth Pirates defeated the Pacific Lutheran University Lutes with a score of 32-7. With this victory, the five game losing streak to the Lutes was brought to a halt and the Pirates continued their winning season with an unblemished record of 6-0. Starting off the scoring drive by the Pirates, junior running back Griffin Hare ran the ball into the endzone late in the quarter, finishing off a 75 yard drive for the offense. Junior Jonah Koski then ran the ball in for a two-point conversion, giving the Pirates an 8-0 lead against the Lutes. Early in the second quarter, senior quarterback Ian Kolste found sophomore receiver Michael McKeown for a 30 yard touchdown pass, giving the Pirates a 15-0 lead.

Later in the quarter, Pirates’ defense was determined as they worked to stop the Lutes’ drive towards the end zone. Junior linebacker Dalin McDonnell intercepted Lutes’ quarterback Cole Chandler’s pass and ran it back for a 45 yard touchdown, maintaining the Pirate’s lead at 22-0. Freshman kicker Rehn Riley then kicked a 44 yard field goal to put the Pirates at a comfortable 25-0 lead to finish off the half. The Pirates came out of the half with a total of 221 yards to PLU’s 114.

“We’re playing very well as a team,” sophomore defensive back Matt Wetzel said. “The defense is definitely coming together and really stepping up for us this season. We’ve made a tremendous amount of progress from last season on both sides of the ball.”

Coming out of the locker room at half time, the Lutes started out with a strong drive that was disrupted by a fumble forced by sophomore defensive back Taylor Roelofs and recovered by junior linebacker Alex Myrick. Whitworth was then forced to punt by PLUs defense which resulted in a missed 24 yard field goal attempt by the Lutes.

Continuing in the third quarter, the Pirates capitalized on an 80 yard drive which resulted in a 31 yard touchdown pass received by sophomore receiver Nick Kiourkas from Kolste. With less than 6 minutes left in the quarter, the Pirates lead the Lute’s with an unanswered 32 points.

PLU’s only touchdown came early in the fourth quarter when Lute’s quarterback Chandler found receiver Beau Lockmer resulting in a 38 yard touchdown pass. The Pirates’ defense was able to hold off further scoring by the Lutes until the clock ticked down, resulting in a final score of 32-7.

“Our players have wanted this game for a long time, no one on the team has beaten them,” head coach Rodney Sandberg said. “Last season it was the last game of the year and we just did not feel good about how that game ended. That loss and how the season ended served as motivation all off season. I think our players really came ready to play. They had a lot of fun today.”

A larger threat will come next week when the Pirates take on the the also undefeated Linfield Wildcats, the defending conference champions. This showdown will determine who takes first place in the conference.

“It’s going to be a very fun and challenging week for us,” junior defensive end Mac Shaw said. “We are going to be playing a very good team and playing at their place. We are going to have to show up and play well on Saturday.”

The Pirates will play away next Saturday in McMinnville Ore. at 1:00 p.m.


McKinley Powers

Staff Writer

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Pirates win Homecoming Game and first NWC match


The stands were packed with fans on Homecoming weekend eager to watch the Whitworth Pirates take on the George Fox Bruins in the first conference matchup of the season. The Pirates came out strong and finished the Bruins with a final score of 37-14.

After defeating the Bruins last season 30-7, the Pirates were looking for a similar outcome as they stormed the Pine Bowl on Saturday. The first two touchdowns came within the first five minutes of the game with sophomore receiver Nick Kiourkas and junior running back Duke DeGaetano both putting points on the board for the Pirates. Freshman kicker Rehn Reiley then kicked a 51-yard field goal after the Bruins stopped the Pirates on downs to finish out the first quarter 20-0.

“The game was great,” McKeown said. “Offense didn’t play the best but I had the opportunity to play a little more today and do what I had to do.”

The Pirates started out the second quarter with a double pass trick play by sophomore receivers Kevin Thomas and Mike McKeown, which resulted in a touchdown. The Pirate’s defense then made a mark with a sack by sophomore outside linebacker JT Phelan. The Pirates finished the half up 27-0.

During halftime, President Beck Taylor honored the class of 2015 inductees into the Whitworth Hall of Fame. Those were Whitworth Alumni who made a significant impact in sports at Whitworth and have continued to fulfill Whitworth’s mission of serving humanity after graduation. The inductees included former coaches and former athletes whom many of which still hold athletic records at Whitworth and in the NWC.

The third quarter got under way with a 48-yard field goal by Reiley, but no further points for the Pirates. In the fourth quarter junior linebacker Dalin McDonnell had one interception, which George Fox answered with one of their own. Following the play, senior defensive lineman Danny Welstad sacked the Bruins quarterback. The Pirates finished the game with a touchdown by Degaetano. The final score came out to 37-14.

“I thought we came out fast and played good assignment football,” senior team captain Welstad said. “We came out a little slow in the second half but we were able to finish strong. Overall I thought we did really well.”

Overall, the Pirates offense showed up with 513 total yards compared to George Fox’s 270 total yards. That included a total of 427 passing yards by the Pirates compared to the Bruin’s 139 yards.

“We came out knowing they wanted to smash us in the mouth,” McDonnell said. “We executed our assignments and stayed strong throughout the whole game. It was awesome.”

Whitworth leads the Northwest Conference along with Linfield, Pacific University and the University of Puget Sound. The Pirates currently stand with 37 total points behind Linfield’s 73 total points for conference.

The Pirates will hit the road this following Saturday to take on the University of Puget Sound. The game will be held in Tacoma, with kickoff at 1 p.m.


McKinley Powers

Staff Writer

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Football beats Chapman with ease in Los Angeles

The Whitworth Pirates defeated the Chapman Panthers 37-7 on Saturday, Sept. 26, in Los Angeles, during a non-conference game. The Pirates came out strong, scoring 23 points in the first half and maintained their lead by scoring two touchdowns in the second half. After losing to the Panthers in the 2014 season 49-34, expectations were set high for the Pirates. Right out of the gate, the Panthers blocked an attempted field goal made by freshman kicker Rehn Riley. Junior running back Duke DeGaetano then rushed for the first touchdown of the game, followed by an incomplete two point conversion. Another touchdown quickly followed as junior quarterback Ian Kolste rushed for a touchdown, resulting in a 13-0 lead by the Pirates.

The Pirates defense demanded attention in the first half after junior outside linebacker Dalin McDonnell intercepted a pass by the Chapman QB on the first play of the drive. That led to another rushing touchdown by DeGaetano two plays later to finish out the half. Pirates defense continued to dominate in the third quarter with sophomore inside linebacker Patch Kulp intercepting another pass by the Chapman QB.

Whitworth continued to keep their energy into the third quarter with another interception by McDonnell which he returned for a touchdown. Senior defensive back Kelvin Mackey forced a fumble after a long kickoff return which was recovered by Kulp. DeGaetano then rushed for another touchdown. The Panthers answered with their only touchdown of the game by a kick off return. Mackey then forced another fumble which was recovered by freshman defensive end Chad Wilburg.

“Last year this team beat us,” second year head coach Rodney Sandberg said. “Last year our defense allowed 49 points and this year they had a shutout. It really is a tribute to our defensive players and our defensive coaches.”

Overall the Pirates dominated with a total of 486 yards to Chapman’s 340 yards. Whitworth also had four rushing touchdowns and five defensive takeaways producing the final score of 37-7.

“We ran the ball very well,” junior offensive lineman Trevor Woodall said. “We played very physical and were able to maintain our lead throughout the game.”

The Pirates ended the weekend with an overall record of 3-0. Whitworth leads the conference with 123 points.

Next Saturday the Pirates take on George Fox University for Homecoming, also the first Conference game of the season, at 1 p.m.


McKinley Powers

Staff Writer

Contact McKinley Powers at

Football wins second game of season

After defeating the Whittier Poets in the first game of the season, the Whitworth Pirates defended their turf against the La Verne Leopards Saturday, resulting in another impressive win, 39-20. Starting out the first half, the Pirates dominated on both sides of the ball, scoring five times in the half and allowing the Leopards only 72 total yards of offense. Junior running back Duke DeGaetano scored the first touchdown within the first two minutes of the game, followed by sophomore receiver Nick Kiourkas’ 21-yard reception for a second touchdown.

“The first half was good, we were all running on full cylinders and our offensive line played very well,” DeGaetano said. “They were making big gaps for us and protecting our quarterback. Our receivers were making plays and we were executing the way that we were capable of.”

The Pirates continued to dominate in the first half by scoring three touchdowns in the second quarter. Freshman kicker Rehn Reiley added on a 31-yard field goal to finish out the half.

In the second half, the Pirates came out flat, allowing a touchdown on La Verne’s opening drive. The momentum that had been built during the first half due to an interception on a tipped ball by junior linebacker Dalin McDonnell was lost quickly when the Pirates gave up two fumbles and an interception for a touchdown in the second half.

“We came out fast in the first half, we executed well and played at a high level especially on both sides of the ball,” second-year head coach Rod Sandberg said. “Then we came out of halftime not ready to play and I accept responsibility for that as a coach.”

The Pirates continued to struggle on both offense and defense during the second half while La Verne scored 20 unanswered points to seize the momentum.

“We weren’t very disciplined, we didn’t have any enthusiasm and our execution was very poor,” Kiourkas said. “We just didn’t have the fire that we had in the first half.”

Despite being shut out in the second half, the Pirates’ defense made enough plays at crucial points in the game to maintain the lead, and their offense was able to convert enough first downs to run out the clock and preserve the win.

“We always focus on us and playing our game to our potential,” Sandberg said. “We try to focus on playing clean and we did have a lot of penalties in the first game so we did talk a lot about discipline.”

These two consecutive wins have earned the Pirates second place for the overall season in the North West Conference. The Pirates’ 2-0 record would be tied with Linfield, however, the Wildcats’ 96 cumulative points puts them in first place. The Pirates sit below Linfield with 86 cumulative points.

“I’m excited to see what we can do because I think when we play our best we’re a really special team and we have the ability to do some special things,” DeGaetano said.

Next week the Pirates will travel to Los Angeles to take on the Chapman University Panthers (0-1) in a Saturday night game, Sept. 26. Despite a sloppy finish, expectations are high as the Pirates seek to extend their win streak in California.

McKinley Powers

Staff Writer