A hard-working defense built on team concepts and execution helped build White Oak’s current four-game winning-streak to start the season.

The Roughnecks are 4-0 with a game against Bullard this week, which will complete the non-district portion of the schedule. The White Oak defense has allowed just 25 points through four games.

“Our kids are tackling and taking care of their job and responsibility,” said White Oak head coach Kris Iske of his stingy defense. “Everyone is flying to the football and doing their job instead of trying to do too much. We’ve limited big plays and that is one of our goals. One of our goals this year was to eliminate allowing plays over 25 yards. We’ve done a good job of that so far, which is keeping the scoring down and giving our offense more time with the football.”

White Oak employs a 4-2-5 defense, a system that TCU has made famous under head coach Gary Patterson, and one that allows for flexibility.

“The best part of our defensive philosophy is we can adjust to whatever formation is put in front of us without switching personnel,” Iske explained. “We can go big and roll one of our safeties into the box or use the extra safety to help us in the slot against spread teams. We really like the flexibility it gives us and the fact it makes alignment and assignment easier on our defense pre-snap.”

Bullard is the last test for White Oak before an open week precedes the start of district play. Staying undefeated and winning is the goal for the Roughnecks, but Iske knows more is on the line when district play starts.

“We need to perform well. Bullard is a bigger school with more numbers, so that will be a challenge for us,” Iske said. “Really, though, we want to come out of this healthy. Then in the bye week, we’ll get back to fundamentals. If I had it my way we’d have the bye week at this time of the year every year. It not only gives us a physical break before district play begins, but it also gives us a mental break. We can shorten practices, do less hitting and work on some fundamentals we don’t necessarily cover once game weeks start. It’ll be good for us.”

White Oak would be the favorite to win a district championship in almost every Class 3A district, but District 8-3A-Div. 1 is the home of 2014 state finalist Mineola as well.

“I think our district will be better than it was last year, but Mineola must be considered the favorite because they went to a state title game last season. They have really good athletes and great coaches, so they’ll always be a favorite,” Iske said. “I like our chances, though. I think we can play with any team in the district.”

White Oak used the run by Mineola last season as fuel for the offseason workouts. The Roughnecks lost to Mineola on a late field goal, but White Oak only reached the bi-district round of the state playoffs.

“We don’t talk about it anymore, but we definitely kept track of their progress through the playoffs last season and used it to show our players how close we were to beating a team that could compete for a state championship. I think it lets the guys know we’re right there and can play with anybody,” Iske said. “At the same time, though, this is a new year and a new team. We’re not worried about all that anymore. Our message to our team is to play our best and whatever happens after that will happen.”

So far, so good for White Oak though four games of the 2015 season.