No. 3 Whitehouse + John Tyler Still Favored, But Surprising Nacogdoches Adds Intrigue to District 16-4A Race
There was little debate at the beginning of the season concerning Whitehouse and John Tyler, both of which were expected to contend for the District 16-4A title.
And both have survived the non-district portion of their schedules to remain the favorites to bring home the championship, but an 0-10 team from 2012 is making some serious noise and could pose a legitimate threat to the 16-4A hierarchy in the coming weeks.
It's been seven years since Nacogdoches (4-1) has reached the playoffs, but the Dragons seem poised to break that string after a strong start to the season. Nacogdoches got everyone's attention with a 28-24 victory over arch-rival Lufkin on Sept. 13, its first win over the Panthers since 1992. The Dragons followed the next week by nearly upsetting then-Class 3A No. 1 Carthage.
The one thing that could present a problem for Nacogdoches is the arm injury suffered last week by quarterback Hunter McClellan, who could miss several weeks.
Whitehouse (5-0), ranked No. 3 in the latest Associated Press Class 4A poll, has performed up to expectations thus far. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is off to a impressive start to the season with 1,962 yards, 24 touchdowns and just one interception in 203 passing attempts. The Wildcats' high-powered offensive attack is averaging 570 yards and 56.6 points per game.
Defending district champion John Tyler (3-2) has had its ups and downs, which can be expected of a team that had to replace several key veterans on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Geovari McCollister has shown steady improvement and enters Friday's action with 1,313 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also leads the Lions is rushing with 307 yards and two scores.
The rest of the district has struggled early on. Corsicana, Lindale and Jacksonville have combined to win just two of 14 games. But if Whitehouse, JT and Nacogdoches all continue on their current path, one of those teams will qualify for the playoffs.
Corsicana (1-3), while struggling on defense, features the district's leading rusher. Sophomore Lamontra Owens has run for 1,115 yards and nine touchdowns in only four games. The Tigers will need their defense, which is allowing more than 45 points per game, to step up down the stretch.
Lindale (1-4) features a solid running game as well, anchored by junior Delenis Garrett, who has rushed for 706 yards and eight touchdowns to go with a passing attack that averages close to 200 yards per game. But the Eagles' defense has held them back, allowing 45.8 points each week.
Jacksonville (0-5) is the only winless team from 16-4A and almost all of its problems that can traced to a defense that's surrendering 46.6 points per game. Junior quarterback Carter McCown has performed well, throwing for 1,176 yards and nine touchdowns against teams that are a combined 17-11.
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* -- denotes playoff berth
Friday's District 16-4A Openers
- Nacogdoches at Jacksonville
- Corsicana at John Tyler
- Whitehouse at Lindale