Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

October 18, 2012

Gut-check time for Indian defense with Whitehouse looming

Jay Neal
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Two of District 16-4A's premier offensive units will be on display when Jacksonville welcomes Whitehouse to the Tomato Bowl at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

With that said, the contest could boil down to which team's defense does the best job of putting the brakes on the opposing offense.

The Wildcats, who have won the last six games over the Tribe, are 6-0 overall, 1-0 in district after dismantling Lindale, 56-24, last week.

Coach Randy McFarland's offense comes in averaging 43 points a game and features a somewhat lethal combination of quarterback Pat Mahomes to wideout Dylan Cantrell, who has pledged his services to Texas Tech next year.

Mahomes has completed 114-of-183 passes for 1,686 yards (281 yards per game). He has tossed 18 touchdowns.

“Mahomes is the best quarterback that we have faced this year,” Jacksonville head coach Chris Taber said. “Whitehouse has traditionally been good at producing good passing quarterbacks and that system has been installed for eight years now and they are very good at doing what they do.”

Cantrell has 34 catches or 637 yards and seven scores.

So, with all the firepower that the maroon-clad Wildcats will be bringing to town Friday, the Jacksonville defense will be in the spotlight and must be able to answer the formidable test that awaits them.

“It will be a challenge for our defense,” Taber said. “But, their (Whitehouse) defense is pretty good too, so our offensive guys are going to have to play a good game.”

As a team, the Tribe (3-3, 1-0) will enter play Friday on a bit of a high, having won its last two games and having most of a handful of dinged up players that missed considerable time during non-district play due to a rash of injuries having returned to the team.

The Jacksonville defense however, despite playing well enough to enable to Indians to come out of the league lid lifter last week with a 35-29 win over a winless Nacogdoches team, turned in a sub-par performance, and that will have to change if Jacksonville is to have any chance at all at upsetting the Wildcats.

“We are going to have to be able to get one or two key stops against their (Whitehouse) offense to have a chance to win,” Taber said. “We gave up some passing yards last week...we have to be (more) disciplined in our coverage because the Whitehouse kids understand what they do and where they are supposed to be very well.”

The Tribe gave up 383 total yards last week, with 252 of those coming by air by a Nacogdoches team that came into the game averaging  only186 yards of passing a night.

Last year Taber, as offensive coordinator at Chapel Hill, helped the Bulldogs to be able to down Whitehouse, 59-49, in a 7-on-7-like frenzied offensive indulgence.

Taber doesn't claim to have any magical powers over the Wildcats, but he does profess to have learned some things about the Wildcats in that game that he hopes his Indians will be able to take advantage of  this week.

“The keys to this game will be, on offense we have to be able to go out and execute some sustained drives (JHS had three marches over 12 plays last week) to try to slow Whitehouse down and keep their offense off of the field, and then we have to put points on the board when we have the opportunity,” he said. “Our offense will have to be able to help our defense by being able to drive the ball and limit the time that Whitehouse has the ball.”

NOTES: Jacksonville quarterback Carter McCown's numbers (by average) actually are better than Mahomes'...McCown, a sophomore, is averaging 303 yards of passing and 3.5 touchdown passes a game, with both figures being slightly ahead of Mahomes'...Taber said that he was impressed with the fact that the Indians ran 83 plays last week and that only three of those plays went for negative yardage...He also noted the vastly improved play of the Tribe offensive line as playing a significant role in the win over 'Doches...Fort he first time this season the Injuns were able to unleash a strong one-two punch at running back as Stacy Cummings carried 12 times for 77 yards and scored one touchdown while Sha'Kil Mosley had 18 totes for 70 yards...Mosley also had a rushing touchdown...Three of the last four meetings between the Indians and Wildcats have been settled by five or fewer points, including last year's 22-21 Whitehouse triumph.