WHITEHOUSE — Whitehouse football coach Adam Cook doesn’t want to get ahead of himself. But based on his Wildcats’ 7-on-7 performance this summer, he has reason to be fully confident.

“It think that the 7-on-7 season has seen a good response,” Cook said Wednesday. “They just played together as a team. A lot of our success in 7-on-7 has to do with the attitude.”

Whitehouse finished second at last week’s 7-on-7 Division I state tournament in College Station, falling to Katy Seven Lakes in the championship game. The result might’ve been somewhat surprising to some, considering the Wildcats graduated most of their top skill-position guys from last season — including national athlete of the year, quarterback Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech).

But first-year starting quarterback Jackson Allen proved capable of keeping the program’s high-powered passing attack in stride, which will be needed this fall in perhaps the state’s toughest district next year — District 16-5A. After claiming a district title in unbeaten fashion last season, the Wildcats will now play in a league that features three potential top 10 teams in the AP preseason poll — Lufkin, Ennis and, of course, rival John Tyler.

“We’ve got a bunch of young talent and Jackson has progressed well,” Cook said. “I think over the course of 7-on-7 he’s gotten more comfortable with calling the plays. The thing about our 7-on-7 team was seeing how he was going to respond. Time after time I think he responded well.”

Whitehouse, which didn’t participate in spring workouts, begins preseason practice Aug. 4 and begins the season Aug. 29 at Texas High. The Wildcats’ schedule also includes (in order) Chapel Hill, Sulphur Springs, John Tyler, Lufkin, Ennis, Corsicana, Jacksonville, Nacogdoches and Lindale.

The first three district games might be the most brutal stretch the UIL has to offer and could be somewhat similar to an SEC experience. In the Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Class 5A preseason poll, Ennis is fourth, JT is eighth and Lufkin is 12th.

That stretch should provide plenty of experience for a team that also returns standouts such as defensive back/receiver Justin Dunning (Texas A&M pledge), running back Vincent Dunning, running back Shemar Smith (recently ran a 10.6 in the 100-meter dash, listed at 4.3 in the 40), defensive back Nate Brooks and linebacker Dominique Hollie.

Even though they lost key players, Cook believes the Wildcats have talented younger players who’ll make their name known this season.

“I think we’ve just created that kind of environment,” he said.

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