[By Stephen Amason, Special to ETSN.fm]

In his first year as the Whitehouse head football coach, Marcus Gold and the Wildcats are playing lights-out football. They have a record of 5-1 and are 3-0 in District 9-5A Division II.

Last Friday, the Wildcats played the Nacogdoches Dragons on the road and came away with another big district win. However, it wasn’t an easy road to glory, as they were down 24-13 going into the fourth-quarter. They did manage to put their rally caps on and score 22 unanswered points and walk away with a victory over the Dragons, 35-31.

“It’s gonna be one of those years where your practice and preparation is gonna show up on Fridays,” Gold said. “I thought our kids did a really good job in buckling down and showing some grit down there. (Offensive coordinator Akeem Leviston) and the offense really stayed positive and just kept doing what they were doing, not a lot of game adjustments, just stayed at it offensively, and were able to get things going in that fourth quarter.”

Senior quarterback Flint Herrington has been electric this season, with just over 1,500 passing yards, 15 TDs, and only four interceptions on the year. He’s having a breakout year and is one of the leaders on the offense.

“He’s one of the good examples on the team, he’s playing smart football, making accurate throws, and understands that we have some talented players around him,” Gold said. “He along with some of our senior leadership on the team is really helping us out this year.”

Herrington has a strong receiving bunch to throw to, led by Kendrion Johnson (640 yards receiving and eight touchdowns), Kendahl Fry (347 yards, three touchdowns), and Texas Tech commit Cameron Cantrell (283 yards, three touchdowns).

“Kendahl Fry is someone that can get into the open field and make guys miss,” Gold said. “You got your big outside guys like Cantrell and KJ (Johnson) who are not just a deep threat but, they’ve also done a really good job in intermediate short game situations. Cameron Johnson (nine catches and 124 yards), I call him ‘Mr. Reliable.’ He blocks his tail off, the balls thrown to him he catches it, he also adds into that mix of the receiving corps.”

The Wildcats have one of the best defenses in the district, led by senior defensive tackle Darius Trimble, who has 53 tackles and three and-a-half sacks, linebackers Peyton Kennedy (46 tackles, three and-a-half sacks) and Michael Raabe (54 tackles, two interceptions),

“Darius Trimble is by far one of the best kids that I’ve coached, character wise, hard worker, he’s such a good kid,” Gold said. “We call him a technician, he’s not just somebody that makes flashy plays, he does exactly what coach (Evan) Beaton and coach (Joey) Gautney are teaching him.

“Michael Raabe is the brainiac of the defense, he’s lining everybody up, and you have Peyton Kennedy on the outside who’s just a sideline-to-sideline tackler, he’s good in coverage. They’ve both had really big interceptions in critical moments, they’re here every day, they watch extra film every day, and I think that’s what’s gotten them ahead on Friday nights.”

All in all, this team is fueled primarily by its senior leadership. Gold went on to talk about how much it has played a part in their success this season.

“We have a lot of seniors on our team that are really good leaders and they do a good job,” he said. “They make it easy for coaches in all the little things when comes to running onto the field, making sure that we're being accountable to each other, those seniors are really bringing that positivity.”

Whitehouse goes on the road this week and plays a district game against the Lindale Eagles (3-3, 2-1).

“Every game you gotta prepare like it’s a must-win situation because it is, every team in our district is very even across the board,” Gold said.

“They’re one of the teams that you always think about at the end of the year that are gonna play extremely hard and not only just play hard, they playing very well right now. Their quarterback is very accurate, especially rolling out of the pocket, they got a sophomore running back who’s running the ball very well, he had 200 yards-plus the last game. It’s gonna be a four-quarter football game, we’re gonna have to get after them up front, win the line of scrimmage, and we’re gonna have to play well in the secondary.”