No. 8 White Oak Looks to Keep Winning Ways Going After Three Big Victories
The expectations in White Oak are pretty simple: beat Spring Hill, and make the playoffs.
So far, so good.
The No. 8 Roughnecks, coming off a 56-8 win over rival Spring Hill, are looking to continue their winning ways after starting 3-0 for the fourth consecutive season. Last Friday marked White Oak's fifth straight win against its arch-nemesis, which always serves as a big confidence booster going into the rest of the season.
"I know the kids enjoyed it and the community enjoys it. It's a big deal around here," White Oak coach Kris Iske said. "It's always good to come out on top in a rivalry game."
White Oak has been used to winning as of late, winning nine of its last 10 dating back to last season. The Roughnecks boast a punishing defense that has allowed 20 points or more just twice since the beginning of 2014, and once was this year in Week 2 in a 49-38 win over Tyler Bishop Gorman.
"Then they scored 91 last week, so that made me feel a little better," Iske said with a laugh. "But we're young as a defense. We had to replace three of our four defensive linemen, but they're fitting into their roles and learning."
But the big story in White Oak is quarterback Heath Hood and the Roughnecks' powerful offense that is averaging 50.7 points per game through three games.
And Hood has been on another level. After missing half of 2015 with an injury and splitting time at quarterback before that, Hood hasn't missed a beat under center this season. He has accounted for 17 touchdowns through three games, and is East Texas' passing leader with 1,219 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Hood's highlight-reel night came against Bishop Gorman when he accounted for 563 yards of offense and six touchdowns, with an incredible 517 yards and five scores coming through the air. He didn't slow down against Spring Hill, throwing for 396 yards and played part in six more touchdowns. He was named the ETSN.fm Offensive Player of the Week after his stellar night against Bishop Gorman.
"Heath has improved every week, even from our scrimmages to games one, two and three. His throwing and accuracy has improved," Iske said. "We have a run-pass offense and defenses have been stacking the box against the run daring us to throw it and that's what we've done. And we've got nine or 10 guys who are touching the ball every game at receiver. Our offense is really clicking."
With Hood's success through the air, Iske expects that teams will start focusing more on pass defense moving forward, but he's got a running game that can be just as dangerous. Hood, Connor Hearron and Brandon Cook have made big plays on the ground this season, including Cook's 84-yard touchdown run against Spring Hill.
"Whatever the defense gives us is what we'll do. We pride ourselves on having a balanced offense," Iske said.
The focus shifts to Daingerfield this week and White Oak will follow with its final non-district game, a big one against No. 9 Harmony. Beyond that, a District 8-3A Division I schedule that barring upsets, should leave White Oak in good position going into the postseason.
"I tell the kids we want to improve every game, and we've done that so far. We want to learn from our mistakes," Iske said. "The great thing about these kids is that they may not be the greatest athletes in the world but they play as hard as they can and work hard to execute and that's all I can ask. Our community expects us to win, and our kids are focused on doing that."