GARLAND — Whitehouse’s last two opponents — John Tyler and Ennis — featured storied histories and a combined seven state titles.
But the Wildcats’ next opponent doesn’t have much in the form of history at all.
Enter the Wylie East Raiders, who’ve been playing football for only three seasons.
That’s who Whitehouse (10-1) meets in the Class 4A Division II area playoffs at 7:30 p.m. today from Garland ISD’s Homer B. Johnson Stadium. The winner advances to face either Mesquite Poteet (9-2) or Dallas Lincoln (10-1) in the regional round.
“They are a great football team and our kids know we have to play well,” Whitehouse coach Randy McFarlin said. “If we play well we have an opportunity to win the ball game.”
Whitehouse advanced to the second round with a 42-32 victory against Ennis, while East kept its season alive with a 70-33 rout of Sulphur Springs.
The Wildcats and Raiders (8-3) enter the matchup with explosive offenses and talent at the skill positions, which means there could be plenty of points. Plus, there will be three receivers on the field headed to the Big 12 next season in Whitehouse’s Dylan Cantrell (Texas Tech) and East’s Marcell Ateman (Oklahoma State) and Quan Jones (Baylor).
Whitehouse junior quarterback Patrick Mahomes has completed 216 passes for 3,390 yards and 41 touchdowns, having completed 61 passes for 1,245 yards and 15 touchdowns to Cantrell; and 60 passes for 837 yards and eight scores to junior Jake Parker.
Mahomes faced big-time pass rushes against John Tyler in the regular-season finale and Ennis last week, leaving the Wildcats to figure out ways to protect him better this week. But that might be a difficult task, considering East defensive tackle Jesse Brubaker (6-4, 260) has verbally committed to the University of Tulsa (switched from SMU this week).
“We’ve done some things this week to help him out a little bit,” McFarlin said. “I’m concerned with the pressure Patrick has gotten the last two weeks. The quality of the defense has gone up. They have a very strong defensive lineman (Brubaker). He’s big and he’s strong. But we have to give Patrick time.”
East quarterback Garrett McCain has completed 176 of 311 passes for 2,930 yards and 40 touchdowns with only three interceptions this season, passing for 384 yards and seven scores against Sulphur Springs. Ateman (6-4, 189) and Jones (6-4, 201) have hauled in 71 passes for 1,369 yards and 22 touchdowns and 48 passes for 927 yards and 12 scores, respectively.
The Raiders aren’t a pass-only team, though, evidenced by running back Jabari Anderson’s 217 carries for 1,594 yards and 15 touchdowns.
What does Whitehouse need to do to be successful?
“We need to limit their two big-time receivers; if we can do that I feel like we are in good shape,” McFarlin said. “Offensively we have to move the sticks and we are going to have to score some points. I don’t think we can shut them down completely. In playoff games turnovers and special teams always figure big.”