When Whitehouse competed in the 7-on-7 state tournament on Friday, Adam Cook received updates from assistants who made the trip to Leander.
Having previously committed to something else, the Wildcats’ first-year head coach opted to witness the results from afar.
Cook, who helped develop Whitehouse’s offense into one of the state’s best as an assistant, is extremely confident in the team’s abilities to throw and catch the football. He has every reason to be, considering the Wildcats annually rank among the UIL’s top passing teams.
This upcoming season should be no exception, considering Texas Tech pledge Patrick Mahomes will be back at quarterback and the receiving corps is expected to rank among the best in WHS history.
As for now, Cook is experiencing the transition from offensive coordinator to head coach.
“It’s been very busy,” Cook said Thursday. “It was a busy spring with (college) recruiting. It’s a great time for Whitehouse football.”
Brad Cook, coach Cook’s younger brother, has made the move from offensive line coach to offensive coordinator. Adam still plans to call the plays, though.
“It will be important that we maintain the consistency,” Cook said. “But I slowly will have to transition.”
On the other side of the ball, Whitehouse is moving from the 4-3 to the 3-4 under first-year defensive coordinator Brian Dunn, who spent the past few seasons under Phil Castle (now at Henderson) at District 16-4A rival Corsicana.
Sam Shields, who has guided the Wildcats’ defense since 2007, is now the junior high coordinator for all sports.
Whitehouse went 10-2 last fall and reached the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season. The Wildcats carried an unbeaten record into the regular-season finale against John Tyler, but fell 45-38 in one of the area’s most hyped matchups in recent memory.
Whitehouse rebounded to beat Ennis 42-32 in bi-district, but fell to Wylie East (63-56) in the area round.
Despite turning the Wildcats into an annual playoff team, head coach Randy McFarlin was relieved of his duties and is now an assistant at Bishop Gorman.
Cook, officially named head coach (Richard Peacock is the athletic director) during a February board meeting, took over a team that returns eight starters on offense and seven on defense.
Mahomes, a Second-Team Super Team selection by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, is coming off a stellar debut season at quarterback. The incoming senior completed 237 of 418 passes for 3,839 yards and 46 touchdowns, completing 69 passes for 976 yards and nine scores to fellow classman Jake Parker.
His other top targets include seniors Jaylon Dews, Ryan Cheatham and Coleman Patterson. Junior defensive back Justin Dunning, a 6-4 standout and one of the state’s top recruits for the 2015 senior class, is also expected to see time at receiver.
Whitehouse will be without graduated receiver Dylan Cantrell, who signed with Texas Tech in February.
Meanwhile, it’s been two weeks since Ryan Tomlin made one of his most difficult decisions of his professional life. It’s a decision he still stands by.
In a surprise move, Tomlin accepted an assistant principal position at Lindale High School and left his post as Whitehouse’s head boys basketball coach. Planning to return at the Wildcats helm next season for his 17th year in coaching, Tomlin was approached by a Lindale ISD official about the opening and decided to take a leap of faith.
“I feel really good about it,” Tomlin said Friday. “I really feel at peace about it. There were times when I would think, did I really just do this? To me I look at the big picture of life. I only live once. I feel that through prayer this is the way the Lord is guiding me right now.”
Tomlin’s teams never missed the playoffs during his five seasons at Whitehouse. He went to Whitehouse after a successful run at Bullard, which he guided to the 3A regional finals in 2006.
Peacock said Tomlin’s successor will be announced Monday.
Whitehouse and Lindale are District 16-4A rivals and will meet at least twice next season. Next season Whitehouse returns an experienced roster, with which Tomlin developed a strong bond.
“That’s going to be interesting,” said Tomlin, referring to the Wildcats-Eagles meetings. “However, it’s going to be fun watching those kids play. I’m excited to get to see them play and how a new coach will respond to them. It will be kind of bittersweet.”
He continued: “I talked to a lot of the players at Whitehouse. They are very mature kids and they understand the decision. They know that I’m a family-first guy. Some were upset about it but totally understood. That’s the hardest part of coaching. This will allow me an opportunity to pour my time into my own children more. Those are the ones I’m held most accountable for and most responsible for.”
How does Tomlin plan to approach his new job?
“I just want to take who I am and offer it to the community of Lindale, the staff of Lindale and the students and faculty. I’m not somebody who wants to go on a power trip. I don’t have any of that in me.”
Tomlin, who plans to buy a home in Lindale, will be closer to his parents, who live in Grand Saline, and his in-laws, who reside in Terrell. That’s an added bonus, he said.