ETSN.fm Preseason Class 6A/5A Poll: No. 6, Whitehouse Wildcats
The positive momentum surrounding Whitehouse's football program had been building for a decade, and last season it culminated into the greatest season in school history.
Whitehouse notched its first-ever undefeated regular season, in which it finished ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press' Class 4A state poll. Led by all-state quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who now is No. 2 on the depth chart at Texas Tech as a true freshman, the Wildcats achieved a school-record 12 wins and advanced as far in the playoffs as any previous Whitehouse team ever had.
Mahomes, ETSN.fm's Co-Offensive Player of the Year and the state of Texas' Class 4A Player of the Year, and a slew of fellow seniors are gone now. And that begs the question: Where does Whitehouse go from here?
Second-year head coach Adam Cook and his staff believe there's enough established tradition now at Whitehouse that the Wildcats don't see 2014 as a rebuilding year, but simply a time for younger players in the program to shine.
And like most quality football programs, Whitehouse is not completely defined by one special class of athletes.
Senior free safety Justin Dunning, who missed most of last season with a torn ACL suffered during his team's second game, is one of the most highly touted prospects in the nation. Dunning (6-4, 200) is committed to Texas A&M, and is anxious to make up for his lost junior year.
Nate Brooks (6-0, 160), a senior cornerback, is another Whitehouse DB committed to an FBS program. He's one of four East Texans in the 2015 class who has pledged to North Texas.
Other promising defensive standouts include senior linebackers Dominique Hollie (6-1, 219) and Dillan Klein (6-0, 202), who will try to fill the void left by the graduated Reggie Long, who's now a member of the Lamar football program.
Finding replacements for players that helped Whitehouse average 574.2 yards and 54.4 points per game in 213 will be a challenge, but the Wildcats do have a pair of potential playmakers in the backfield capable of having a big-time impact this fall.
Shemar Smith (5-8, 155), one of the area's fastest track athletes, qualified for the U.S. Junior Olympic team over the summer as a sprinter and could serve as Whitehouse's biggest home run threat on offense. Following an injury to starting running back Vincent Dunning, who also returns this season, Smith was forced into action down the stretch and finished his sophomore year with 544 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
Hollie, a bruising back utilized in short-yardage situations, could also emerge as a primary option at running back.
Whitehouse will be challenged in the new District 16-5A with the addition of state powerhouse Ennis, a 4A Division II state semifinalist in 2013, and perennial East Texas giant Lufkin. John Tyler, the 16-4A runner-up last season, returns several of its core playmakers as does Nacogdoches, which finished third in the league a season ago.
2014 Whitehouse Wildcats Schedule
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ETSN.fm Preseason Class 6A/5A Poll
- No. 6: Whitehouse Wildcats
- No. 7: Nacogdoches Dragons
- No. 8: Sulphur Springs Wildcats
- No. 9: Marshall Mavericks
- No. 10: Hallsville Bobcats