Loser of Whitehouse-Nacogdoches Matchup Faces Uphill Battle
Whitehouse Wildcats (4-3, 0-2)
Nacogdoches Dragons (4-3, 1-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Dragon Stadium, Nacogdoches
- Whitehouse: Adam Cook
- Nacogdoches: Bobby Reyes
- Whitehouse: vs. Corsicana, Oct. 28
- Nacogdoches: at Ennis, Oct. 28
- QB Tanner Roach, Sr., 6-0, 170 (70 of 123, 963 yards, 7 TDs, 4 INTs; 27 carries, 166 yards, 2 TDs)
- WR Zach Parker, Sr., 6-1, 190 (36 catches, 586 yards, 7 TDs)
- LB Isaac Little, Sr., 6-0, 195 (81 tackles, 9 for loss, 2 sacks, 2 INTs)
- CB Javier Neal, Jr., 5-10, 155 (45 tackles, 2 for loss, 6 INTs, 3 PBUs, 2 forced fumbles, 1 recovery)
- DE Khyree Key, Sr., 6-2, 243 (47 tackles, 12 for loss, 4 sacks, 1 QB pressure, 2 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries)
- CB Ken'tavian McDade, Jr., 5-10, 178 (12 tackles, 5 for loss, 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble)
- LB Connor Clark, Sr., 5-11, 160 (45 tackles, 4 PBUs)
- DL Christian Owens, Jr., 6-2, 255 (45 tackles, 13 for loss, 2 sacks)
- S/WR Josh Thompson, Sr., 6-0, 190 (8 catches, 128 yards, 3 TDs; 47 tackles, 8 for loss, 1 INT, 3 PBUs, 2 forced fumbles, 4 recoveries; committed to Texas)
- RB Phillip Jones, Sr., 5-9, 193 (214 carries, 1,356 yards, 11 TDs)
- WR Jaylon Maxie, Sr., 5-11, 180 (19 catches, 250 yards, 2 TDs)
- LB DaRyan Williams, Jr., 5-11, 185 (46 tackles, 6 for loss, 1 sack, 1 INT, 5 PBUs, 3 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries)
- QB Noah Hildebrand, Sr., 6-1, 180 (93 of 167, 1,148 yards, 11 TDs, 3 INTs; 33 carries, 97 yards, 1 TD)
- DT Devaunte Johnson, Sr., 6-0, 265 (56 tackles, 16 for loss, 5 sacks, 9 QB pressures, 1 PBU)
- DE Brad Phillips, Sr., 6-3, 210 (36 tackles, 5 for loss, 3 sacks, 13 QB pressures, 5 PBUs, 1 fumble recovery, 1 blocked punt)
- WR Jed Morgan, Jr., 5-8, 155 (29 catches, 332 yards, 4 TDs)
Just the facts
- Whitehouse is averaging 27.6 points and 317 yards per game -- 103.5 rushing and 213.5 passing.
- The Wildcats have held opponents to 19.9 points per game and forced 20 turnovers -- 12 interceptions and eight fumbles.
- Whitehouse led in the fourth quarter of both its district losses.
- The Wildcats have not missed the playoffs in three consecutive years since 2003-05.
- Nacogdoches is averaging 33 points and 390 yards per game -- 226 rushing and 164 passing.
- The Dragons have held opponents to 26.3 points per game and forced 12 turnovers -- three interceptions and nine fumbles.
- Nacogdoches running back Phillip Jones has touched the ball on 48.3 percent of his team's play calls, and is responsible for 49.7 percent of the offensive yardage.
- The Dragons are shooting for their third playoff berth in four years. Prior to 2013, the preceding three Nacogdoches postseason appearances occurred in 1992, 1982, and 1966.
Key matchup: Nacogdoches rushing attack vs. Whitehouse defensive front. There hasn't been a more productive running back in all of East Texas this season than Nacogdoches senior Phillip Jones. And the biggest reason for that: he gets the ball. A lot. Jones enters Week 9 leading the region with 1,356 rushing yards on 214 attempts, also best in East Texas. The fewest carries Jones has had in a game this season is 18, which was in a Week 1 rout of Kilgore. But since then, the fewest number of attempts he registered was 2, and Jones is coming off a career-high 43 carries in last week's overtime loss to Corsicana. If there is one thing trending in the negative direction for Jones, it's been his slight decline in production since the beginning of district. Jones averaged 210 yards per game and 7.4 yards per carry during non-district, but in the last two weeks, the Dragons' workhorse is averaging 57 less yards, and the yards-per-attempt number is down to 4.3. And it's affected the Nacogdoches offense overall; the Dragons put up more than 37 points per game during non-district. Nacogdoches has scored 44 points total in its two 17-5A contests.
For the better part of a decade, Whitehouse had been known much more for offense than defense. That's not the case in 2016. The Wildcats' offense has been in a steady decline in the three years since the graduation of current Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Whitehouse averaged 37.6 and 27.2 points per game in 2014 and 2015, respectively. And things aren't much better this season, having begun district with a total of 35 points in two games.
Fortunately, the defense has helped rescue an inconsistent offense. The Wildcats have been among the area's stingiest and most opportunistic defenses, and will need another strong effort this Friday against Nacogdoches. Whitehouse has excelled both up front and in pass coverage. Coming into this week, the Wildcats have made 73 tackles for loss -- an average of more than 10 per game. Getting penetration into the Dragons' backfield would go a long way in disrupting Nacogdoches' willingness to stick with the run. But if Whitehouse is able to accomplish this, the Wildcats' secondary will be waiting. Whitehouse has 12 interceptions as a team on the season, and half of them belong to East Texas' co-leader in picks -- junior cornerback Javier Neal.
Don't be surprised if: Points are scarce Friday night. Do not expect Jones' recent downturn in production will discourage Nacogdoches from going away from the offensive identity its built throughout the season. More rushing attempts will equal longer drives, in effect shortening the game, providing less opportunities for either offense to put points on the board.