By Craig Harris for The News Examiner
The White House High School football team is following a familiar postseason path.
However, the Blue Devils are hoping that a familiar opponent doesn’t lead to the same result.
White House looks to reach the Class 4A quarterfinals for the fifth consecutive season when it hosts Giles County on Friday evening at Dewey H. Whitson Stadium.
“The biggest thing is that we are playing,” Blue Devil head coach Jeff Porter said. “It just so happens that we are playing a team that best us last year in the quarterfinals and finished as the state runner-up.”
The eighth-seeded Bobcats advanced with last Friday’s 38-35 victory at top-seeded Marshall County. Giles County suffered a 34-17 loss at Marshall County one week earlier, in the final game of the regular season.
“Seeding doesn’t matter,” Porter said. “It’s how you perform on Friday night. There’s no doubt that Giles County performed very well last Friday night.”
The Bobcats struggled through the regular season, entering the playoffs with a 4-6 record.
“They have kids who played 15 games last year,” Porter said. “They got the experience. That helps.
“They are still playing because they are a good team.”
Giles County’s spread-formation offense often operates out of a pistol formation, led by senior quarterback Trevor Holder. Holder has completed 150 of 267 pass attempts for 2,414 yards. He has thrown for 17 touchdowns and five interceptions and has rushed for 682 yards and six touchdowns.
“It all starts with the quarterback,” Porter said. “He is 215 pounds. He can run, and he has great touch throwing the deep ball.
“He drives the car.”
Junior Jordan Tucker is the Bobcats’ leading rusher with 854 yards and 11 touchdowns on 144 carries.
Senior Lucas Harrison is the team’s leading receiver with 55 receptions for 1,095 yards and six touchdowns, and senior Cameron Ordway has 41 receptions for 684 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Ordway – a University of Mississippi commit – has also intercepted three passes, as has senior teammate Dontarius Gilbert.
“(Tucker) played lights out last week, and (Ordway) has signed with Ole Miss,” Porter said. “The one we have a lot of respect for is No. 10 (Harrison).
“They make you defend it all. They are a good football team.”
Fourth-seeded White House (7-4) has picked up its play since a 14-7 loss to visiting Westmoreland on Oct. 17. Since that time, Porter feels that the Blue Devils have improved significantly, falling by a point in overtime at Pope John Paul II High in addition to a 56-7 victory over visiting Cheatham County and last Friday’s 35-0 win over Creek Wood.
“The last three weeks, we have gotten better each week,” Porter said. “It’s getting some kids back (from injuries). Traditionally, for whatever reason, we make our push late in the season. It’s been a blessing.
“We played well last Friday night. We have to do that this Friday night. If you don’t, you go home.”
Four White House players who have missed recent action due to injuries returned to the lineup last Friday, including sophomore tailback Ronald Honeycutt, junior linebacker James Whitby, senior offensive tackle Drezmond English and senior defensive tackle Emmett Cannon.
Blue Devil senior offensive guard Tyler Gardner has been sidelined since a 35-0 victory over Harpeth on Oct. 10, but there is a chance that he could play this Friday.
A year ago, Giles County captured a 34-10 victory win at White House in the quarterfinals.
Holder passes for 156 yards and rushed for a team-high 59 yards and three touchdowns in the contest a year ago. Gilbert had a 55-yard reception and a 5-yard touchdown run, and Harrison caught two passes for 31 yards.
The Bobcats suffered a 54-14 loss to Fulton in the 4A state final.
“The kids remember last year,” Porter said. “They remember their level of play.
“It’s a new year. I don’t think we look to the past. We look to the present. It comes down to executing a game plan.”
Over the last eight seasons, the Bobcat program has appeared in two state championship games (winning the 4A state title in 2009), two semifinal contests and two quarterfinal games.
The winner advances to face the winner of Friday’s second-round contest between sixth-seeded Spring Hill (6-5) and No. 2 seed Pearl-Cohn (9-2).
Eagles travel back to CPA
Westmoreland is hoping to reach the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2006.
The Lions advanced to the quarterfinals in 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2013, finishing as the state runner-up last season.
CPA (11-0) is the state’s only unbeaten team in Class 3A. The Lions were ranked second in 3A in the final Associated Press Statewide Prep Football Poll of the regular season.
The Eagles were ranked ninth.
“They’re by far and away the best football team I’ve seen,” Westmoreland head coach Steve Harris said. “What stands out is the large number of athletes who can run and are very physical.”
The CPA offense is averaging 353 yards and 44 points per game.
Lion junior quarterback Zack Weatherly has completed 72 percent of his pass attempts, resulting in 1,360 yards and 25 touchdowns (with only three interceptions).
Weatherly is also averaging better than 11 yards per rush, having gained 330 yards and six touchdowns.
Junior Wallace Barrett (693 yards and six touchdowns), senior Jay Hockaday (528 yards and 13 touchdowns) and junior Chip Omer (456 yards and five touchdowns) are all averaging better than eight yards per carry.
Senior J.R. Osborn (37 receptions, 536 yards and 10 touchdowns) is Weatherly’s favorite target, and junior Joseph Richard (25-321-4) and senior William Whitaker (18-228-4) are also options in the passing game.
The CPA defense has 15 interceptions and nine fumble recoveries.
The Lions are led up front by senior two-way tackle Parker Howell. Howell – a 6-foot-5, 250-pounder – is a Class AA Mr. Football Lineman of the Year finalist.
Fourth-seeded Westmoreland (9-2) dominated visiting Fairview, winning 35-6 last Friday. The Eagles limited Fairview to 12 yards rushing.
Westmoreland has won six consecutive games.
“We have played well for the second half of the season,” Harris said. “Against Fairview, I think we played about as well as we can play. That should five us confidence going into Friday night’s game.
“We will obviously have to play at a high level if we want to be successful on Friday night.”
Westmoreland suffered a 37-14 loss at CPA to end its 2012 season in the second round of the playoffs.
“The seniors were sophomores the last time we went down there,” Harris said. “We had some bad things happen early in that game. I think we kind of got shell-shocked by the environment.
“These seniors are now seasoned. That should be one advantage we will have.”
The winner advances to face the winner of Friday’s second-round contest between sixth-seeded Lipscomb Academy (8-3) and No. 2 seed White House Heritage (10-1).
Sports reporter Craig Harris can be contacted at 575-7138.