One of the head coaches roaming the sidelines during tonight’s Whitehouse-Chapel Hill showdown sounded off about his team’s season-opening performance last week.
“Our effort was terrible in the first half. We’ve got too many players on our team thinking about themselves instead of the team,” he said earlier this week. “We’ve got miles to go to become a good football team.”
Those were not the words of Whitehouse’s Randy McFarlin, who’s Wildcats were dominated by Corsicana last Friday, 54-35.
Thomas Sitton, head coach of Class 3A’s top-ranked team, seemed rather unimpressed with Chapel Hill’s 74-23 blowout of Palestine Westwood.
In all fairness, McFarlin wasn’t thrilled about his team’s season debut. Whitehouse allowed 422 rushing yards and 34 first-quarter points to Corsicana.
“Defensively, it was a total breakdown,” McFarlin said. “We did not play defense at all. We just need to get more physical and learn to play together. It was as poor an effort as I’ve seen in a while.”
So when the two longtime, Lake Tyler rivals take the field tonight at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium in the opening game of the Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic, both coaches believe more than bragging rights will be on the line.
“Our kids see (Chapel Hill) as just another opponent,” McFarlin said. “They just need to get ready to play and focus on not getting embarrassed again.”
Sitton vividly remembers last season’s game against Whitehouse. The 42-6 loss served as an early season wake-up call for a team that quickly rebounded from the humbling defeat by stunning state-ranked Carthage the next week.
“It definitely left a bad taste in our mouth because we were embarrassed so bad,” Sitton said. “They outhit us, played with more effort and outhustled us. We didn’t play hard for 48 minutes; we played hard for a good quarter and a half.”
Despite Sitton’s criticism, the results were there for Chapel Hill on offense last week.
Quarterback Avery Saenz completed 12 of 15 attempts for 395 yards and a career-best seven touchdowns to six different receivers.
“I thought we threw the ball very well and caught it well,” Sitton said. “We had a couple of receivers really step up. Our offensive line, after the first quarter, did a good job of pass protecting.”
One week after surrendering more than 400 yards on the ground, the Whitehouse pass defense should get a test this week from a Bulldogs offense that averaged more than 40 yards per touchdown pass against Westwood.
“Chapel Hill is a good offensive team,” McFarlin said. “They’ve got a lot of weapons and a great quarterback. We need to be more concerned with what we need to do to get better than what Chapel Hill’s doing. We can’t really game plan right now because we’re still trying to learn our base front.”
Chapel Hill, meanwhile, will face a different test on defense than it did a week ago against a run-heavy Westwood squad. Whitehouse quarterback Hunter Taylor attempted 53 passes and threw for 395 yards last week.
“Our two scrimmages we played against run-heavy teams, and our first game was against a run-first team,” Sitton said. “Whitehouse is a lot like the old Texas Tech, throwing the ball all over the place. They’ve got an outstanding quarterback back again this year and they’ve got some talented receivers that are hard to match up against.”
Both teams must also get prepared for one another with one fewer day of preparation.
“It changes the routine a little bit,” McFarlin said about playing on Thursday night. “We’ve got to get better in a short length of time. I feel like we’re making progress, but we’ll see (tonight).”
NOTES: Chapel Hill will be the designated home team and occupy the press-box side of the stadium. … Chapel Hill leads the all-time series with Whitehouse 13-9-2, but the Wildcats have won nine of the past 10 meetings. … The kickoff classic at Rose Stadium continues on Friday when former district mates Robert E. Lee and Lufkin tangle, and the final game is on Saturday as longtime rivals John Tyler and Longview match up. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. each night. Tickets are $10, but reserved tickets to either JT or Lee games are good for all three games of the Classic.