Whitehouse + No. 9 Lufkin Look To Avoid 0-2 Starts To District 16-5A
Whitehouse Wildcats (3-1, 0-1)
No. 9 Lufkin Panthers (2-2, 0-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Abe Martin Stadium, Lufkin
- Whitehouse: Adam Cook
- Lufkin: Todd Quick
- Whitehouse: vs. Ennis, Oct. 10
- Lufkin: at John Tyler, Oct. 10
- S Justin Dunning, Sr., 6-3, 200 (33 tackles, 3 for loss, 2 INTs, PBU, fumble recovery; committed to Texas A&M)
- CB Nate Brooks, Sr., 6-0, 160 (22 tackles, 3 INTs, 4 PBU; committed to North Texas)
- RB/LB Dominique Hollie, Sr., 6-1, 225 (18 carries, 85 yards, 2 TDs; 34 tackles, 2 for loss, forced fumble, 2 recoveries)
- RB Vincent Dunning, Sr., 6-0, 203 (84 carries, 458 yards, 3 TDs; 3 catches, 16 yards)
- WR Trent Williams, Jr., 6-3, 185 (25 catches, 339 yards, 4 TDs)
- QB Jackson Allen, Sr., 6-2, 175 (75 of 155, 1,061 yards, 12 TDs, 4 INTs; 21 carries, 50 yards)
- RB/WR Shemar Smith, Jr., 5-8, 165 (16 carries, 122 yards, TD; 11 catches, 194 yards, TD)
- LB Dillan Klein, Sr., 6-1, 210 (32 tackles, sack, 2 QB pressures)
- WR KeKe Coutee, Sr., 5-10, 165 (20 catches, 234 yards, 3 TDs; 4 carries, 9 yards)
- OL Erik McCoy, Sr., 6-4, 285
- WR Terry Mark, Sr., 6-1, 190 (18 catches, 207 yards, 4 TDs; committed to Houston)
- QB Trey Cumbie, Sr., 6-2, 200 (54 of 77, 713 yards, 8 TDs, 2 INTs; 12 carries, 25 yards)
- RB Steven Sowell, Sr. (78 carries, 605 yards, 9 TDs; 8 catches, 132 yards)
- DE/LB Bronson "Boom" Massie, Jr., 6-0, 205
- DL Tyrique Spencer, Sr.
- DB Mister Calloway, Jr.
Just the facts
- This is the first-ever meeting between Whitehouse and Lufkin.
- The 17 points Whitehouse scored last week were its fewest since Oct. 14, 2011 -- a 42-14 loss to John Tyler.
- Through four games, Whitehouse is averaging 40.8 points and 464.5 yards per game -- 199.3 rushing and 265.2 passing.
- Whitehouse is hoping to avoid its first 0-2 start to district since 2000.
- A Lufkin loss would drop the Panthers to 0-2 in district for the second consecutive year.
- Through four games, Lufkin is averaging 36.8 points and 382.3 yards per game -- 200.5 rushing and 181.8 passing.
- The combined record of Lufkin's four opponents -- Longview, Tyler Lee, River Ridge (La.) John Curtis and Nacogdoches -- is 12-5.
- So far, the cumulative record of Whitehouse's four opponents -- Texas High, Chapel Hill, Sulphur Springs and John Tyler -- is 8-9.
Key matchup: Lufkin passing game vs. Whitehouse secondary. Even though Lufkin will bring senior standout running back Steven Sowell, who has gone for more than 100 yards in each of his first four games of the season, into Friday's showdown, it's the Panthers' passing game that separates Lufkin from the rest of the pack. Senior quarterback Trey Cumbie is one of the most naturally gifted signal-callers in all of East Texas, and his one-two punch at receiver -- KeKe Coutee and Terry Mark -- provide opponents with nightmare matchups in the secondary. Coutee, who holds FBS offers from Louisville, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech and Tulsa, will line up all over the formation, which often catches defense out of alignment before the snap. He is one of the most electric playmakers in the region with the ball in his hands. And his success is not limited to offense, where he's caught exactly five passes in each of Lufkin's first four games. Coutee also has two punt returns for touchdowns, but none in the last two weeks, which suggests special teams coaches have gotten the message and are directing their punters to angle their kicks away from the game-breaking athlete. While Coutee will be featured in the slot, out wide or even in the backfield at times, Mark is more of the prototypical receiver. The Houston commit has excellent size, which allows him to out-muscle much smaller defensive backs, and his route-running skills downfield are among the best in East Texas.
In last week's 35-point home loss to John Tyler, Whitehouse's secondary, which figured to be the team's top defensive struggle, struggled -- especially in the first half. John Tyler quarterback Geovari McCollister completed 12 of his 15 attempts for 169 yards and five touchdowns to five different receivers, which all came in the first two quarters, helping the Lions to an insurmountable 38-10 halftime lead. Whitehouse has had limited success in shutting down opponents' ground games this season, but up until last week, the Wildcats' pass defense had been able to cover up some of those mistakes. Now that District 16-5A play has begun, Whitehouse has little margin for error anymore. Not only must Whitehouse perform better at the line of scrimmage against a potent Lufkin rushing attack, the Wildcats must get the very best from their secondary, which features two FBS commits -- safety Justin Dunning (Texas A&M) and cornerback Nate Brooks (North Texas). Dunning and Brooks have five interceptions between them, but neither were able to pick off John Tyler last week. Whitehouse's corners and safeties might have to cheat a little bit this week by jumping routes, which carries with it a very high risk and reward. If the gambles pay off, Whitehouse could have an excellent chance of coming away from Lufkin with a victory.
Don't be surprised if: Each team turns up their intensity level Friday night. Neither Whitehouse or Lufkin wants to begin the loaded 16-5A with back-to-back losses, especially with a potential 0-3 start looming the next week. Whitehouse hosts Ennis, while Lufkin travels to John Tyler next week. Friday night's winner should get renewed confidence heading into their next test, while the loser's back will be against the wall. It would be hard enough surviving an 0-2 start in this district, but it seems unfathomable that a team that begins with three consecutive losses would be in an advantageous spot to right the ship in time to make playoffs. After an impressive start to the regular season, which included blowout wins over Longview and Tyler Lee, Lufkin has dropped a close decision to RIver Ridge (La.) John Curtis after committing five costly turnovers, and the Panthers were stunned for the second consecutive season by longtime rival Nacogdoches last week. Whitehouse, which had to replace a plethora of impact players from 2013, surprised a few by beginning the year 3-0. But in last week's loss, the Wildcats' youth and inexperience may have finally caught up to them. How Whitehouse responds to its first bit of adversity should give everyone a firm grasp on what can be expected of the Wildcats for the remainder of the season.