For years, Whitehouse football was about as irrelevant a program as any in East Texas. Not anymore. When the Wildcats missed the playoffs last season, it came as a genuine shock.

Whitehouse begins the 2015 season ranked No. 6 in ETSN.fm's preseason Class 6A/5A poll, eager to make amends for its string of eight consecutive playoff berths coming to an end last fall.

To be fair, Whitehouse graduated arguably the school's most-accomplished senior class the year before -- a group, headlined by current Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes, that went 22-3 in 2012 and 2013.

Whitehouse won its first three games last year, but struggled in District 16-5A, a league that also featured eventual Division II state champion Ennis, Division I semifinalist John Tyler, and traditional power Lufkin -- one of the state's largest schools in the 5A classification.

When the smoke cleared, Whitehouse broke even at 5-5.

But a seasoned 2016 class led by receivers Shemar Smith and Trent Williams, and an impressive junior group highlighted by linebacker Khyree Key and QB/ATH Tanner Roach, should have the Wildcats in good position to return to the postseason.

A challenging non-district slate consisting of Texas High, Chapel Hill, and Sulphur Springs leads right into a daunting gauntlet to begin 16-5A -- at John Tyler, vs. Lufkin, at Ennis.

2015 Whitehouse Wildcats Football Schedule

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ETSN.fm Preseason Class 6A/5A Poll