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Home News-Telegram Sports High powered rivals meet in playoffs

High powered rivals meet in playoffs

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     Whitehouse and Sulphur Springs will pit their powerful offenses against each other, one more time.

    In recent years, the Wildcats from Smith County and the ones from Sulphur Springs, have had some entertaining battles. One thing is pretty certain, points will be ringing up on the scoreboard like cash registers on black Friday.
    In the last nine matchups, Whitehouse has won five, Sulphur Spring four. Whitehouse is averaging 39.2 points per game, SS is putting up 38.5 an outing.
    Whitehouse won earlier this year, 61-22. The 61 points the highest total they had ever registered in the game. Sulphur Springs won 70-49 in 2011 for their record total at that time.
    Sulphur Springs fell 33-30 to Whitehouse in the 2007 bi-district playoffs in a thrilling battle.
    Sulphur Springs (8-3)  and undefeated No. 3 ranked Whitehouse (11-0) meet Friday, Nov. 22 at Forney in the Class 4A, Div. II area football playoffs.
    Perhaps the only thing more potent than the Sulphur Springs offense is the Whitehouse attack. While Sulphur Springs has put up 45 points a game, Whitehouse is scoring at a clip of 54 points a contest.
    Patrick Mahomes of Whitehouse and Sulphur Springs standout Larry Pryor are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the state Class 4A offensive statistics on Max Preps.
    Mahomes for year has accounted for 3,796 yards passing and 808 rushing for an average of 418.5 per game, tops in 4A stats statewide. Pryor is second with 2,562 yards passing, 925 rushing for an average of 317.0.
    Shemar Smith and Dominique Hollie are the other top running threats after Mahomes. Hollie has 61 carries for 432 yards and eight touchdowns. Smith has 55 totes for 384 yards and four scores.
    Jake Parker tops the receiving corps with 56 grabs for 1,189 yards (21.2 average) and eight touchdowns. Jaylon Dews has 42 receptions for 573 yards and 11 scores. Coleman Patterson has pulled in 41 passes for 719 yards and eight touchdowns. Ryan Cheatham has 46 grab for 498 yards and eight tallies.
    The teams met earlier in the year with Whitehouse ruining the homecoming ceremonies at Gerald Prim Stadium taking a one-sided win. The loss still is in the mind of the players and coaches. Just like all recent losses to the rivals wearing maroon and white.
    Sulphur Springs head football coach Greg Owens said the preparations this week have not been anything out of the ordinary. Especially, since both teams know each other so well and have played at least once in recent years.
    "Practice, it is the same thing we have been doing. Each week we change it up a little bit, depending on the team we play. This week, it's Whitehouse and we know what they do, they know what we do," Owens said. "It depends on the kid's mood. We have had more urgency this week because it's the playoffs. We are so familiar with them, their scouts came to our game Friday and we said, ‘what are you doing here?’ we know each other that well. We laughed, they laughed. We play each other and nothing has changed in eight years. It's the same stuff, a tweak here or there. We change personnel a little - but it comes down to making plays on Friday night."
    Owens continued, "We both have settled in to how we are playing in the latter part of the season. Not as dramatic as far as what we do. It's different, but it is not. It comes down to fundamentals. Our coaches have been keeping it light. We know what is on the line, you have to win to go on. We know that, so does Whitehouse. They (Whitehouse) has been in two tough games they've escaped with wins. They battled John Tyler in district and won 55-54. Then last week, they went to overtime to beat Arlington Seguin. They have been in some games that came down to the wire and they had to make some big time plays."
    "I'd hope for us, that these tough wins have taken something out of Whitehouse," Owens said. "But I believe that an athlete is in the moment. Once you are out of that moment. I don't think they will be tired and drained. Friday night both teams will be ready to play. It will come down to turnovers and which defense can get stops. Fundamentals like taking care of the football. If we can get our hand on the ball, get Mahomes on the ground. We want to force them into things they don't want to do."
    Owens said, "I know we are better offensively now that we were the first time we played Whitehouse. Our quarterback, Larry Pryor, has more games under his belt and more experience. We have a running back (Willy Ivery) who is in his groove. We have other guys with 11 games worth of experience. Everyone from receivers to offensive linemen. They understand their roles and have gotten beat. Whitehouse has improved in some areas as well. Whitehouse is a senior team, they do things extremely well."
    Mahomes is the heart and soul of the offense. Not only is the 6-2 senior the leading passer, but he's the leading rusher as well.
    "No. 5 (Mahomes) it does all revolve around him," Owens said. "He does a great job. He's a phenomenal player. I watched their game over and over. He just wills them to win. He took the team on his shoulders, he broke five tackles on a fourth down and ran 30 yards for them to get to the end zone. He's a competitive winner, he wants the ball in his hands. He has flaws in his throws, sure, but the guy knows how to make plays and keep things alive. That's why he's so good and Texas Tech is interested in him. He's a gunslinger. He can do anything, he will throw it behind his head or his back. On way play we had him tackled on the right side, he threw the ball out-of-bounds left-handed to avoid a sack. He has athletic savvy, I have seen him made incredible plays over and over. It all does revolve around him. The game is on him, his arm legs. He's got to make the chains move."
    Top receivers for Whitehouse include Dews, Cheatham, Smith and Parker.
    "They have lots of good receivers who understand how to go up and get the ball. They know about high-pointing the ball," Owens said. "The Parker kid is one of the best around. I have seen Parker make catches with people draped all over him. They get after it and know what they are doing. It's not an overcomplicated offense they use, it's about making plays and they make them."
    Owens said that other times the Whitehouse attack may appear to be schoolyard football, using plays they just made up or drew in the sand with a stick. But they work.
    "Mahomes goes to his first read and if it is not their he gets antsy feet," Owens said. "He is not going through three or four progressions. When he starts moving, you get nervous. They understand backyard football. They know how to run to a space and get open. We run the scramble drill each week and they know what to do. We teach our players what to do. Whitehouse is really good at making plays. Mahomes is at his best when things break down. The challenge for us it to get to him and get him on the ground. They feel very confident. We can't allow them to pull off big plays."
    Top tackler for Whitehouse is Savian Lacy with 87 total tackles, Joseph Klein is a close second at 82 total tackles and a team high five sacks. The pair have combined for 15 tackles for losses. Chris Reese, a mobile linebacker, is averaging six tackles a game and has a total of 65.
    For the year, the Whitehouse defense has accounted for 73 tackles for losses and 34 sacks.    
    The Whitehouse defense is not void of stars. Kostin Wallace, a 340-pound defensive lineman will draw attention in the game.
    Owens said, "No. 77 (Wallace) can be disruptive. That cat is in better shape than he was in the first game. He is a big kid who can move and get in the backfield. He can get penetration and has a good first step. They have lost other players on their defense. But they are still good and can make plays. They understand the passing game, so they are good at pass defense. Their linebackers are active and they can pin their ears back because they have so much belief in their offense. They know they will score and they have confidence. They take chances and know they will score. We want to make them be uncomfortable and put some points on the board. It could be a shootout game."
    "We can't let them catch the long passes like they did in the first game," Owens said. "We got to hold them and get stops. Offensively, we need to be consistent, move the ball and put up points. We are more confident, but they are too. There's a reason they are No. 3 in the state. What they are doing doesn't just happen."
    Owens said he hates that the weather forecast could call for the teams to play in wet, cold and windy conditions.
    "You deal with it this time of year. We were not fortunate enough to get inside to play," Owens said. "Here we go, you might have to deal with win, but Whitehouse has to deal with it too. We have to block, tackle, get the first down and go get them."
    Owens said, "We have a natural rivalry with Whitehouse. We play each other so much. It will take place, right now 32 teams are left. One of those teams is going to win a state championship. We want to continue  and be in the 16 and playing over the Thanksgiving holiday. That's our thing for this week. To win so we can keep playing. We don't want to make kids tense up. This is a big opportunity and we want to take advantage of it.”
    The coach added, “Rarely do you get a second chance at team, we can kill two birds with one stone. Whitehouse is supposed to win, they are No. 3 in the state. You got kids playing a ball game, nobody can predict what might happen. We just want to play hard and do our best."




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