Whitehouse Wildcats (0-0)

vs.

Texas High Tigers (0-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Tiger Stadium at Grim Park, Texarkana. Radio: KISX-FM, 107.3 -- Tyler

Coaches
  • Whitehouse: Adam Cook
  • Texas High: Barry Norton

 

Next week
  • Whitehouse: vs. Chapel Hill (in Tyler), Sept. 5
  • Texas High: vs. Arkansas High, Sept. 5

 

Playmakers

Whitehouse

  • S Justin Dunning, Sr., 6-4, 200 (15 tackles, 1 for loss, 2 QB pressures, 1 PBU in two games; committed to Texas A&M)
  • CB Nate Brooks, Sr., 6-0, 160 (53 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 QB pressure, 4 INTs, 6 PBU, 2 forced fumbles, 1 recovery; committed to North Texas)
  • RB/LB Dominique Hollie, Sr., 6-1, 215 (76 carries, 515 yards, 11 TDs; 6 catches, 87 yards, 2 TDs; 34 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 sack)
  • RB Vincent Dunning, Sr., 6-0, 205 (63 carries, 417 yards, 9 TDs; 7 catches, 94 yards in seven games)
  • RB Shemar Smith, Jr., 5-8, 165 (70 carries, 544 yards, 5 TDs; 24 catches, 411 yards, 2 TDs)
  • QB Jackson Allen, Sr., 6-2, 180
  • WR Drew Smith, Sr., 5-11, 185 (17 catches, 238 yards, 2 TDs)
  • CB Chris Simms, Jr., 5-8, 160
  • WR Trent Williams, Jr., 6-2, 180

 

Texas High

  • RB Javon Thomas, Sr., 6-3, 210 (51 carries, 308 yards, 4 TDs; committed to Tulsa)
  • WR Jarion Anderson, Sr., 5-11, 170 (committed to Tulsa)
  • DT William Brown, Sr., 6-3, 260
  • WR/DB Dale Williamson, Sr., 5-9, 165 (committed to South Dakota)
  • LB K.J. Reid, Sr., 6-1, 195
  • OL Grant Burns, Jr., 6-2, 250
  • DB Jacorian Walker, Jr., 5-9, 165
  • OL Matthew Davis, Jr., 6-0, 265

 

Just the facts
  • Whitehouse and Texas High have played each other only once. Texas High scored a 49-13 win in the first-round of the 2008 playoffs.
  • Both Whitehouse and Texas High enjoyed undefeated district seasons last year.
  • Since 2000, Whitehouse is 6-8 in season openers. The Wildcats have won three of their last four.
  • Since former head coach Randy McFarlin took over the program prior to the 2004 season, Whitehouse is 71-44. In the 10 years prior, the Wildcats were 41-63.
  • Whitehouse returns four offensive and three defensive starters from last year's 12-1 Class 4A Division II regional semifinalist.
  • Texas High is 10-4 in season openers since 2000. The Tigers won four consecutive from 2001-04.
  • Since Barry Norton became the head coach in 1999, Texas High has compiled an overall record of 131-44-1.
  • Texas High brings back six offensive and three defensive starters from last season's 9-2 Class 4A Division I bi-district finalist.

 

Whitehouse QB Jackson Allen. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Whitehouse offensive line vs. Texas High defensive front. No matter how you slice it, losing a quarterback like Patrick Mahomes is bound to have an impact. Over the past two seasons, the star signal-caller -- now a true freshman at Texas Tech -- would often times cover up mistakes made by the men up front with his ability to escape the pocket and make plays on the run. HIs replacement, senior Jackson Allen, looked great during the summer in leading Whitehouse all the way to the Division I championship game of the state 7-on-7 tournament. But there were no pads, and no defensive linemen aggressively in pursuit. No one expects Allen to be the player Mahomes was, but what coaches and fans hope is for the new quarterback to be comfortable enough in the pocket to deliver passes on time and in rhythm with a virtually brand-new receiving corps.

Allen is best when he's given the time to read defenses, or deliver quick timing throws to receivers in open spaces. This season, perhaps more so than in the previous two years when Mahomes often bailed Whitehouse out with his work outside the pocket, the offensive line's job is more demanding. The Wildcats' line will be working against a Texas High defensive front that features senior defensive tackle William Brown -- an owner of two FBS offers -- and a senior linebacker in K.J. Reid that plays the line of scrimmage about as well as any player at his position in East Texas. Keeping Allen upright and comfortable in the pocket will be something that could ultimately decide Friday night's season opener.

Texas High DL William Brown. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Don't be surprised if: Whitehouse relies on its running game quite a bit, especially early in the game. While the Wildcats suffered significant losses at quarterback and receiver, they are in good shape in the backfield. Whitehouse brings back last season's starting running back Vincent Dunning, who was on his way to a potential 1,000-yard season when an injury cost him the final six games of the year. Other ball carriers to keep an eye for Whitehouse are junior speedster Shemar Smith, who qualified for the U.S. Junior Olympic Team as a sprinter over the summer, and bruising senior back Dominique Hollie. Smith came on strong down the stretch in 2013 filling in for the injured Dunning, while Hollie's big frame and downhill running style make him difficult to bring down in the open field with a full head of steam behind him.

The strength of Texas High's defense is its front, so if Whitehouse does make a concerted effort to get its running game established, that would be playing into what the Tigers' defense does best. Whitehouse, which has been running a wide-open, uptempo spread attack -- similar to Texas Tech -- for several years now, won't completely alter its offensive philosophy, but attempting to establish a ground game early may be the way to go against a Texas High defense that excels in obvious passing situations.