WHITEHOUSE — Competing for the quarterback position at Whitehouse hasn’t thrown a curve ball the way of juniors Ryan Cheatham and Patrick Mahomes.
The longtime friends and fellow standout pitchers faced the situation in the past, and brace themselves for an arms race the two consider a friendly one.
“We’ve been dueling since seventh grade,” Mahomes said. “It’s nothing different. And we’re good friends.”
Both began making their pitches as the replacement to standout Hunter Taylor, who threw for more than 4,000 yards last year for one of the state’s top passing attacks, Monday when Whitehouse opened football camp.
The quarterback battle stems more from having two good options as opposed to none.
“It’s a good problem to have,” Whitehouse head coach Randy McFarlin said of his two signal-callers.
Cheatham (6-2, 180) played quarterback last year on JV, leading the Wildcats to a district title. He later pitched well enough to merit All-East Texas second team honors on the Tyler Morning Telegraph All-East Texas squad and Pitcher of the Year accolades in District 14-4A as a sophomore after the Wildcats reached the regional semifinals.
“I’m approaching it as if I want the job because I do,” Cheatham said in between practices on Thursday. “I’m coming out every day battling. But I do know him and we’re best friends. It’s not like we’re mad at each other. We both know that whoever gets it will be the better quarterback.”
Cheatham’s arm rates as his biggest strength, but not his only one he feels.
“I can be a pocket quarterback,” Cheatham said, “but if I need to get out and run I can.”
The versatile Mahomes (6-3, 195) spent last season playing in the Whitehouse secondary, doing enough to merit honorable mention all-district. He also played a key role in baseball, winning 11 games en route to earning a spot on the All-East Texas first team.
He enjoyed further acclaim in basketball as the 14-4A Offensive MVP last year.
Mahomes’ father Pat Mahomes pitched in the MLB for six clubs including the Texas Rangers, a trait the son says he picked up.
“I have the athleticism, but I have a strong arm from my dad and being able to pitch,” said the younger Mahomes, who led Whitehouse to the championship bracket at the 7-on-7 Texas state tournament. “I can make a lot of passes some quarterbacks can’t.”
Both want the opportunity to showcase their arm, especially in a pass-happy Whitehouse offense responsible for producing receivers Trey Metoyer (Oklahoma), Jonathan Aldridge (Navarro) and senior Dylan Cantrell, a Texas Tech commit.
“It’s built perfect for quarterbacks,” Mahomes said. “You throw 50 times and get 300, 400 yards a game. You get to throw out the shotgun. It shows your arm.”