By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
The Tigers and Whitehouse hit the ninth game of the season with nothing to play for — OK, just kidding.
Yes, both teams have clinched a playoff spot, a remarkable feat considering Corsicana started out with a 1-5 record. Thanks to a six-team district with four teams getting in, the Tigers’ current two-game winning streak has them back in the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
Whitehouse (8-0, 3-0) is in too, the seventh consecutive year the Wildcats are postseason bound. Whitehouse, like Corsicana, was picked to make the playoffs before the season, and here the Wildcats are.
Neither team will be playing for playoff positioning — Whitehouse will be 16-4A’s No. 1 seed in the Division II playoffs. Corsicana will be 16-4A’s No. 2 seed in the Division I bracket, barring a collapse by Tyler John Tyler to end the season.
Still, Corsicana-Whitehouse has turned into a bit of rivalry — the teams have played the last four seasons with the teams splitting the four games.
“They have been good contests,” Whitehouse coach Randy McFarlin said. “It’s getting to be a little rivalry between the two of us. Our motivation is it’s a district game and we’re sitting here at 8-0. We want to get it in Week 9.”
McFarlin insists the Wildcats will not be looking ahead to next week’s showdown with No. 2 Tyler for the 16-4A title.
“The biggest game is Corsicana,” McFarlin said. “We started the year that way. It’s one step, one game at a time. When the schedule came out, Week 10 was circled with Tyler. But this group of kids is pretty well focused. If we wandered any (mentally) it was before last week (against Nacogdoches).”
Whitehouse still handled the Dragons 52-21, but it wasn’t exactly what McFarlin had hoped for from his team. The week before the Wildcats went to overtime with Jacksonville before pulling out a 42-35 victory.
The Tigers meanwhile have picked up their pace, beating Nacogdoches and Lindale in back-to-back weeks. Now we find out if the Tigers can beat a team with a winning record.
Corsicana’s wins have come against three teams with a combined record of 5-19 with Forney having the best record at 4-4; the losses to teams with a combined record of 27-12.
Can the Tigers beat an opponent with a winning record? Castles notes that Corsicana was close against Denton Ryan, Waxahachie and Red Oak, playing well at times. John Tyler is the only game that on the field looked like a mismatch.
“The others ones you can argue we were close at times,” Castles said. “We should have beaten Red Oak probably. And we had a chance against the other ones.
“It’s taken us a while to play better in all phases. Our special teams have come around. We’re playing more consistent on both sides of the ball.”
To pull off the upset, the Tigers will have to slow down Whitehouse junior quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who has completed 143 of 250 passes for 2,239 yards and 27 touchdowns. Mahomes isn’t a major running threat — he has 201 yards — but he can extend plays and find one of his four talented receivers led by senior Dylan Cantrell.
“He’s still a youngster,” McFarlin said. “It’s his first time back there. He’s run the offense well as the numbers show. He extends the play and the receivers get open. We haven’t played as well as we can on offense. I’m hoping we come out of the chute this week and play better.”
The Wildcats’ coaching staff is concerned about the multiple formations the Tigers use on offense, and with that Corsicana’s ability to control the clock. And the Tigers come off of a game in which they rushed for 202 yards, led by Donovan Fields’ 178 yards and two touchdowns.
Whitehouse allows 23.3 points per game and has a veteran defense led by senior defensive ends Brannon Beaton and Will Thomas (six combined sacks) and senior safety Colby Campbell (49 tackles).
“They’re really improved on defense,” Castles said. “It’s the big difference this year. They’re playing really good. It’s a good, sound defense.”
The Tigers may be in the playoffs, but they need to get better if they want to win in the postseason.
“Winning is always a confidence booster,” Castles said. “We may get Red Oak again in the playoffs and they’re playing really well. We’ve moved a lot of kids here and there, so it would be nice to spend these next two weeks with guys in positions where you don’t have to move them.”
Whitehouse has plenty to play for from an undefeated regular season to winning for their coach. Somehow McFarlin, who has 7 of Whitehouse’s 10 playoff trips to his credit, doesn’t have a contract for next season.
McFarlin, in his ninth season at Whitehouse, wouldn’t elaborate on his situation. But he did say it motivates his coaches and players.
“They asked me early what they can do,” McFarlin said. “I said, ‘Win 16 ball games.’ They’ve rallied a little bit. But I don’t think that’s the difference in why we’re winning.”
Corsicana at Whitehouse
7:30 p.m. Friday
At Wildcat Stadium
Radio: KAND-AM 1340
RECORDS: Class 4A Corsicana is 3-5, 2-1 in District 16-4A. Whitehouse is 8-0, 3-0.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Corsicana: QB Zach Rash, TB/CB Ronnie Devearux, DE Darius Watson, OL Dean Fletes, S Tenery Walker. Whitehouse: QB Patrick Mahomes, WR Dylan Cantrell, S Colby Campbell, DE Brannon Beaton, DE Will Thomas.
UPDATE: The Tigers have their first two-game winning streak of the season after last week’s 40-22 win over Lindale and it comes just at the right time ... Corsicana is 9-2 all-time against Whitehouse, but the teams have split the last four meetings with the Wildcats winning in 2008 and 2010 ... the Tigers have improved steadily on defense, allowing two touchdowns in the fourth quarter against Lindale (mostly against backups) after going seven quarters without allowing one ... Corsicana has averaged 34 points in its wins over Nacogdoches and Lindale ... the Tigers are 1-3 on the road this season, the lone win coming in East Texas against Nacogdoches ... Corsicana rushed for 302 yards against Lindale with junior Donovan Fields going for 178 yards and Devearux returning to the lineup with 84 yards and two TDs ... LB Cedric Weaver leads the Tigers with 78 tackles ... DE Jarrett Hall has nine tackles for a loss and Watson has 51 tackles and three sacks ... the 6-3, 185-pound Mahomes has been brilliant this season with 2,239 passing yards and 201 rushing yards ... he’s passed for 27 TDs and run for 5 TDs ... his go-to guy is Cantrell, who has 43 receptions for 864 yards and 11 TDs ... WRs Jake Parker and Coleman Patterson have combined for 1,122 receiving yards ... Campbell has 49 tackles and an interception ... the Wildcats’ other safety, sophomore Justin Dunning, has four INTs ... K Destin Wilkins has made six FGs while the Tigers missed their only try ... Whitehouse has won three games by seven or fewer points.
— Todd Wills