Decision Day: JT-Whitehouse battle for 16-4A supremacy

John Tyler receiver Justice Liggins breaks free from a Nacogdoches defender in a District 16-4A football game. (Courtesy)

One school wears the name of the 10th president of the United States.

The other school bears the name of the president’s home.

Only one gets to house the District 16-4A football championship trophy, up for grabs tonight between John Tyler and Whitehouse.

John Tyler (8-1, 4-0 in 16-4A) held office as the district champion the last three seasons, bringing a 19-game district winning streak into the game.

The stakes alone makes tonight’s contest worthy of Game of the Week distinction.

“A district championship is on the line between us and Whitehouse. That’s what makes it a big game,” said first-year JT head coach Ricklan Holmes. “At the end of the night we’re going to crown a district champion.”

Whitehouse (9-0, 4-0) wants to knock second-ranked JT from its perch and put its rising program on the map. Whitehouse has won 10 games twice in its program history. JT won 10 games or more each of the previous three seasons and could soon make it four consecutive years with double-digit victories.

“It’s the biggest game in our school history,” Whitehouse coach Randy McFarlin said. “It’s even bigger than the third round game against Waco in (2006) because it’s a district championship game against the No. 2 team in the state. If we can win this one, we will be up there with the top 10 elite programs in the state.”

McFarlin embraced the underdog status and placed the pressure on the shoulders of a JT team which spent one week ranked No. 1 earlier in the year. The Lions have never trailed in two previous meetings with the Wildcats.

“I couldn’t write a better scenario,” McFarlin said. “We are the underdog. We have nothing to lose. We’re going to go play them.”

JT won the previous two meetings, 21-14 in 2010 and 42-14 in 2011. The Lions led 21-0 at halftime of both games, with a fast start the goal again in tonight’s showdown.

“You have to establish yourself early,” Holmes said. “As long as we go out there and do what we started doing in practice and carry it over, it doesn’t matter what they do. It’s about what we do.”

JT prepared for district by defeating three 5A schools in non-district, and outscoring district opponents by 44 points on average. While JT yielded 28 points (7.0) in its four district tune-ups, Whitehouse offered up 108 points (27.0) to the same quartet of opponents.

The Lions have defeated teams with perfect records past Week 9 twice in the last three years, taking down 12-0 Klein Collins in the 2009 Class 5A Division II regional playoffs, and 12-0 Highland Park in the 4A Division I regional round a year ago.

“That’s what the preseason is for, to get you ready for district,” said Holmes, who coached a JT secondary that intercepted Whitehouse four times in the previous two meetings. “The competition that we faced during the preseason prepared us not only mentally, but physically to face the teams that we’ve faced thus far in district.”

Whitehouse’s passing game ranks first in the state in yards per game (326.6) according to JT’s passing defense allows only 118 yards per game, making for a premier matchup. Whitehouse failed to score 30 points only once in its first nine games while JT allowed 30 only once in its first nine games.

“It’s great for the community, great for both schools,” McFarlin said. “And you are going to have some great players on the field Friday night.”

LIONS’ TALES: The John Tyler football team will present a check to the family of Chapel Hill freshman Dorian Timmons during today’s pep rally. Timmons underwent brain surgery last month after collapsing during football practice. Members from all levels of the Lions football program collected donations. Quarterbacks from the freshman, junior varsity and varsity will hand over the proceeds raised. Tonight’s JT-Whitehouse game will be dedicated to Timmons, who returned home from a Dallas hospital on Thursday following a lengthy hospital stay. “This is from one football family to another to let them know we care,” said Evelyn Florence, who organized the fundraiser. … JT’s bi-district game in the Class 4A Division I playoffs has been set for Friday, Nov. 16, at Garland’s Homer B. Johnson Stadium. The Lions will open with the second seed from District 15-4A, which will either be Waxahachie, Mansfield Summit or Red Oak.

— Staff writer Shane Stark contributed to this story.

Probable Starting Lineups


WHITEHOUSE — QB 5 Patrick Mahomes (6-2, 185, Jr.), RB 22 Isaiah Burton (5-9, 150, Jr.), WR/X 1 Jaylon Dews (6-0, 175, Jr.), WR 10 Jake Parker (5-10, 170, Jr.), WR/Y 6 Coleman Patterson (6-0, 175, Jr.), WR/Z 14 Dylan Cantrell (6-3, 205, Sr.), QT 71 Brandon Bobo (6-1, 225, Sr.), QG 68 Austin Dickerson (6-0, 215, Sr.), C 50 Kyle Battles (5-8, 215, Sr.), SG 77 McKenlee Smith (6-2, 325, Sr.), ST 75 Hunter Conn (6-3, 270, Sr.), K 80 Destin Wilkins (Sr.).

JOHN TYLER — QB 1 Greg Ward (6-0, 170, Sr.), RB 4 DeQuante Woods (5-11, 185, Sr.), WR/A 22 Reggie Gipson (5-9, 175, Jr.), WR/Z 8 Fred Ross (6-2, 185, Sr.), WR/Y Darion Flowers (6-0, 180, Sr.), WR/X 3 Justice Liggins (6-1, 190, Sr.), LT 62 Emmanuel Terrazas (6-2, 235, Sr.), LG 56 Adrian Pulido (6-0, 255, So.), C 55 Chris Starling (5-11, 250, Sr.), RG 54 Carnelius Davis (6-0, 240, Sr.), RT 52 Travaughn Moore (6-2, 260, Jr.), K 36 Porfirio Benitez (5-6, 145, Sr.).


WHITEHOUSE — DE 89 Will Thomas (6-1, 235, Sr.), DT 32 Matt Gipson (5-10, 195, Sr.), NT 90 Darrion Thompson (5-9, 240, Jr.), DE 33 Kaleab Shackelford (6-1, 180, Jr.), OLB 28 Christopher Reese (6-0, 170, Jr.), MLB 37 Reggie Long (6-0, 205, Jr.), OLB 35 Aaron Clemons (5-10, 190, Sr.), CB 2 Nate Brooks (5-10, 155, So.), CB 22 Isaiah Burton (5-9, 150, Jr.), S 23 Colby Campbell (6-0, 190, Sr.), P 14 Cantrell or 6 Patterson.

JOHN TYLER — DE 81 Tyus Bowser (6-2, 230, Sr.), NG 28 DeAndre Miller (5-11, 230, Sr.), DT 29 Chris Mobley (6-1, 235, Sr.), DE 5 Kavante Jefferson (6-2, 195, Sr.), WLB 15 Andrew Clark (6-0, 205, Jr.), MLB 24 Richard Gipson (6-2, 220, Sr.), SLB 4 DeQuante Woods (5-11, 185, Sr.) or NB 9 Isaac Warren (6-1, 180, So.), CB 25 Traven Johnson (6-1, 190, Sr.), CB 2 Darion Flowers (6-0, 180, Sr.), SS Elliott Hart (5-11, 175, Sr.), FS 13 Terry Ausborne (5-11, 170, Jr.), P 40 Noe Diaz (5-10, 195, Sr.).

Where: Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium (11,593, artificial turf).

Records: Whitehouse 9-0 (4-0 in 16-4A); John Tyler 8-1 (4-0).

Radio: ESPN 92.1 FM.

All-time series: John Tyler leads 2-0.

2011 Result: John Tyler 42, Whitehouse 14.

2012 Results: Whitehouse — Hallsville, W 35-18; Chapel Hill, W 38-14; Sulphur Springs, W 38-33; Marshall, W 60-14; Carthage, W 29-27; Lindale, W 56-24; Jacksonville, W 42-35 (OT); Nacogdoches, W 52-21; Corsicana, W 54-28; John Tyler — Lufkin, W 35-21; Lancaster, L 21-26; Robert E. Lee, W 21-0; Mesquite Horn, W 35-30; UANL (Mexico), W 20-10: Corsicana, W 63-14; Lindale, W 35-0; Jacksonville, W 59-7; Nacogdoches, W 50-7.

Players to Watch: Whitehouse — QB Patrick Mahomes (165 for 284, 2,626 yards, 33 TDs, 7 INTs), WR Dylan Cantrell (49-1,003-11 TDs), WR Jake Parker (48-677-5TDs), WR Coleman Patterson (36-578-8TDs); John Tyler — QB Greg Ward (Total offense: 2,532 yards, 30 TDs; Passing: 24 TDs, 0 INTs), WR Fred Ross (1,049 all-purpose yards, 14 TDs), DE/WR Tyus Bowser (40 tackles, 15 for loss, 7 sacks, 3 caused fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 2TDs), SS Elliott Hart (5 interceptions, 33 tackles).

Quick Slant: A pair of high-scoring offenses succeeded at finding end zone frequently with different philosophies. JT has reached the end zone 24 times on passes, 21 times on run and twice on defense. Whitehouse’s passing game has accounted for 78 percent of its scores (39 of 50 TDs). …Ward went over the 300-yard mark passing, and increased his streak without an interception to 14 games, while Ross caught two TDs against Nacogdoches. Bowser boosts a JT defensive line which allowed only six rushing TDs over the first nine games. …Whitehouse offered up more 300 yards rushing against Corsicana last week. Whitehouse shredded Corsicana for seven passing TDs (six from Mahomes) while JT forced seven turnovers against Nacogdoches, including three interceptions, one by Hart. JT enters the game plus-13 in takeaways, with teams converting a scant 28 percent of their third downs against the Lions. JT’s secondary held opponents to a 42- percent completion percentage the first nine games, intercepting 13 passes compared to nine throwing TDs allowed. Whitehouse averages more than 44 points per game. JT allows 12.7 points per game.

Visiting Sideline: We won’t see any better collection of talent than those kids. Our kids are going to have to play with a lot of pride and a lot of passion to get that power.”— Whitehouse head coach Randy McFarlin

Home Sideline: “We’re going out there to play and beat ourselves because we feel like we are the best team in the state of Texas. As long as we play to beat ourselves, it’s just like going against the best every week.” — John Tyler head coach Ricklan Holmes

Next Up: Whitehouse vs. Lancaster, Arlington Seguin or Ennis in Class 4A Division II playoffs, 7:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 16 at Mesquite Memorial Stadium; John Tyler vs. Mansfield Summit, Waxahachie or Red Oak in Class 4A Division I playoffs, 7:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 16 at Garland’s Homer B. Johnson Stadium.


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