WHITEHOUSE — With a talented collection of receivers having passed through the doors over the years, Randy McFarlin boldly claimed something before the season.
Even though his team recently featured an All-American in Trey Metoyer and a speedster in Jonathan Aldridge on the same field, Whitehouse’s head football coach ventured onto a limb.
“They’re the best receiving corps we’ve ever had,” he said.
McFarlin was referring to his 2012 receiving corps, which has sported tremendous depth and play-making abilities throughout the season. Whitehouse (9-0, 4-0) enters this week’s District 16-4A title game against John Tyler (9-1, 4-0) still unbeaten — while zipping past opponents through the air.
“Overall, we are stronger than we’ve ever been,” said McFarlin, referring to receivers Dylan Cantrell, Jake Parker, Coleman Patterson and Jaylon Dews.
Whitehouse’s passing attack against John Tyler’s secondary is expected to be a key matchup in the game, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes has put together a masterful inaugural season behind center, giving credit to his receivers in mass quantity.
“Having four great receivers helps me out a lot,” said Mahomes, a junior. “I don’t have to rely on a few receivers to make plays. It makes my job a whole lot easier to have everybody on the field I can trust to make plays.”
Having shared time with Ryan Cheatham at quarterback the first few weeks of the season, Mahomes has completed 165 of 284 passes for 2,626 yards and 33 touchdowns with seven interceptions. The multi-sport star is coming off one of his biggest outings yet — 341 yards and six touchdowns in last week’s 54-28 rout of Corsicana.
No doubt, his receivers have helped make things easier on him.
That’s especially true when it comes to Cantrell, the lone senior in the bunch and a future Texas Tech Red Raider. The 6-2, 202-pounder often commands double teams and opens things up for his teammates, but still leads the Wildcats with 49 catches for 1,003 yards and 11 scores.
As a junior, Cantrell caught 86 passes for 1,402 yards and 21 TDs while playing alongside the now-graduated Jonathan Aldridge.
“He’s brought leadership,” Parker said. “A lot of people key on him and double team him, and that gives us a chance to get single coverage and make a play.”
Parker is right behind Cantrell when it comes to receptions, having hauled in 48 passes for 677 yards and five TDs. Patterson is third on the receptions list with 36 for 578 yards and eight TDs, while Dews has 26 catches for 409 yards and five scores.
All told, 16 players have posted receptions this season from Mahomes.
“It’s really fun having Patrick as a quarterback,” Dews said. “You know running every route that you have to keep moving because he breaks tackles. Most of the time (his passes) are where you expect them. He always gives you a chance. He puts a lot of mustard on them when he has to.”
Added Parker: “He’s a great quarterback. He keeps the play alive and always gives you a chance. It’s fun to know that every play you are probably going to have a chance to get the ball.”
It takes time and hard work to develop a successful passing game, McFarlin said.
“We develop those kids,” he said. “They don’t just show up. Everybody is like ‘We have all these great athletes at Whitehouse now; where were they eight years ago?’ Your program develops athletes.”
Whitehouse hopes that pays off against John Tyler, which hasn’t lost a district game since dropping to 4A in 2010 and is ranked No. 2 by the Associated Press. The Lions will present the Wildcats their biggest challenge of the season.
That said, the Wildcats are exactly where they want to be.
“We sat right here in August at this goal post and had a little team meeting and talked about week ten,” McFarlin said from the Wildcats’ practice field. “We talked about being undefeated and going into Rose Stadium to play John Tyler for the district title. It’s exciting. The hairs on the back of your neck stand up. … It’s the biggest game in our school history.”
Said Mahomes: “It’s going to be a great game. I’ve known some of them since we were kids.”
Added Dews: “It’s really hyped around here. Everyone is excited and we’re just ready for the game Friday. It’s what everyone has been waiting for and it’s what we’ve been waiting for.”