For years, Whitehouse football was about as irrelevant a program as any in East Texas. Not anymore. When the Wildcats missed the playoffs last season, it came as a genuine shock.

Whitehouse begins the 2015 season ranked No. 6 in's preseason Class 6A/5A poll, eager to make amends for its string of eight consecutive playoff berths coming to an end last fall.

To be fair, Whitehouse graduated arguably the school's most-accomplished senior class the year before -- a group, headlined by current Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes, that went 22-3 in 2012 and 2013.

Whitehouse won its first three games last year, but struggled in District 16-5A, a league that also featured eventual Division II state champion Ennis, Division I semifinalist John Tyler, and traditional power Lufkin -- one of the state's largest schools in the 5A classification.

When the smoke cleared, Whitehouse broke even at 5-5.

But a seasoned 2016 class led by receivers Shemar Smith and Trent Williams, and an impressive junior group highlighted by linebacker Khyree Key and QB/ATH Tanner Roach, should have the Wildcats in good position to return to the postseason.

A challenging non-district slate consisting of Texas High, Chapel Hill, and Sulphur Springs leads right into a daunting gauntlet to begin 16-5A -- at John Tyler, vs. Lufkin, at Ennis.

2015 Whitehouse Wildcats Football Schedule

Aug. 28Texas HighL 48-20
Sept. 3vs. Chapel Hill (at TMF Rose Stadium, Tyler)W 51-21
Sept. 11at Sulphur SpringsW 66-21
Sept. 18OPEN
Sept. 25*at John TylerL 65-33
Oct. 2*LufkinL 47-3
Oct. 9*at EnnisL 43-21
Oct. 16*CorsicanaL 59-23
Oct. 23*at JacksonvilleL 29-9
Oct. 30*NacogdochesL 51-21
Nov. 6*at LindaleL 41-25 Preseason Class 6A/5A Poll