By Kris Freeman, White House Football
If there was a theme for the White House Blue Devils to encompass the 2011 football season, it was that of a marathon – a team which sprinted out of the gate to a fast start, held on for dear life in the long middle stretch, and finished both strong and respectable among the leaders.
Winning their first four games over Sumner and Robertson County rivals Portland, Westmoreland, Station Camp and Greenbrier, the BDP boys looked poised for a triumphant run through the regular season schedule. But in week five at Beech, a tough foe was too much to tame and the Buccaneers sent WHHS reeling on a three-game losing streak including heart-breakers at Goodpasture and Livingston Academy.
Like many years in the past, White House found all was right and the victim was the Macon County Tigers to move to 503, before running into one of the best football efforts in history by a Carthage squad on a mission, losing big at Smith County. A regular season win over Sycamore at home vaulted the Devils into a second place finish in District 9-AA and a home game against those same War Eagles, where White House tore through Sycamore and Page in the first two rounds. Maplewood was the waiting giant in round three and a dominating shutout loss brought the campaign to an end at 8-5. It was the second straight quarterfinal appearance for a team that is just 11-9 in the last two regular seasons but 4-2 in the playoffs.
Senior Kevin Jackson broke the career record for tackles at White House and led the team with 128 for the season to complete a stellar three-year starting career. He was 53 tackles ahead of the next defensive player at year’s end. Seniors Caleb West and Alan Cope still were impressive with 75 and 70 stops, respectively. Wesley James led the squad with four sacks and eight tackles for loss and both senior Heath Johnson and Ryan Sizemore picked off three passes.
Johnson completed 69-of-129 passes for 926 yards and 11 touchdowns with eight picks, while Grant Wicker passed for 323 yards and rushed 204 times for 1,389 yards and totaled 19 touchdowns through the air and on the ground. Trent McEwen, the all-time record holder in every receiving category at White House, extended his career numbers with 40 catches for 840 yards and 11 touchdowns, an average of 21.0 yards per catch. Sizemore added 13 receptions and two scores and West hauled in 10 passes.
Wicker was the leading scorer on the team with 96 total points but Chase Dunlap knocked through 25 PATs and six field goals.
White House 22, Portland 3
White House opened the season at home with new lights, new paint and a new logo on the field, but the same energy against a common foe with a 22-3 victory over Portland. Scoring 14 points in the first quarter, the Devils for the first time in history took an all-time series lead over the Panthers (22-21).
White House has now won nine of the past 10 meetings with Portland, all but 2005, including six straight. This win came on the legs of Tyler Davis who rushed 21 times for 136 yards and a touchdown, and Heath Johnson completed 4-of-5 passes for 98 yards with big strikes to Trent McEwen and Matt Honeycutt.
The Blue Devils rolled to 342 offensive yards and held the Panthers to 225 with just three points, controlling the football for over 26 minutes in the game.
White House 28, Westmoreland 14
Dominating the Eagles for the two previous seasons, week two started out in similar fashion as White House jumped out to a 7-0 lead on the road at Westmoreland following a 35-yard punt return by Trent McEwen a touchdown run by Grant Wicker. But late in the fourth quarter, the hosts hung tough and trailed just 21-14 when Alan Cope picked off an Eagle pass and raced 46 yards to the end zone to put the game away with five minutes left for a 28-14 win.
Wicker and Davis combined for 23 carries for 154 yards but the Blue Devils had only 195 total yards for the game and lost a fumble for a Westmoreland touchdown return. Leading 14-0 near the half, the defense had a goal-line stand to preserve the score, then extended the lead in the third quarter with a four-play, 72-yard drive by the offense with Wicker breaking through on runs of 22 and 39 yards on the final two plays.
Westmoreland rallied until Cope picked them off in the fourth, and leading 28-14 the Eagles were intercepted by Johnson to finish the threat.
White House 36, Station Camp 16
Danny Hardy raced 90 yards on the opening kickoff and White House held on with a 36-16 thumping of Station Camp at home in week three. Despite twice watching the Bison tie the game in the third quarter, the Blue Devils erupted for 20 points in the fourth quarter to pull away late.
White House had 347 total yards of offense including 49 rushes for 231 yards, and Wicker completed 4-of-8 passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns with 17 rushes for 88 yards and a game-clinching 31-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.
An odd score at halftime (9-2) was knotted up as the Bison returned Hardy’s favor with a 99-yard kick return of his own to start the second half. McEwen scored on a 60-yard pass to make it 16-9, but Station Camp tied it back up after a short punt gave great field position. Davis carried 13 times for 126 yards and scored in the fourth to give White House a 22-16 lead. Station Camp moved into position to take the lead at the White House 23. But a third down pass fell incomplete and Honeycutt sacked the quarterback on fourth down. Wicker then hit McEwen for a 45-yard touchdown and Ryan Sizemore caught the two-point pass for a 30-16 edge before Wicker scored the final touchdown.
White House 17, Greenbrier 6
No two teams in Middle Tennessee have played a long consecutive rivalry, and White House picked up its 44th all-time victory over Greenbrier at home with a 17-6 triumph. The two teams have played 68 times and never missed a year since 1947.
White House has won 30-of-32 meetings against the Bobcats, but this one was tight. White House marched out to a two-score lead early with a touchdown run and pass by Grant Wicker. He was 5-of-7 passing for 131 yards and Davis carried 19 times for 85 yards. McEwen had four catches for 116 yards. The Blue Devils had 272 yards of total offense but struggled the most on third down, converting just 2-of-10. But Greenbrier also had troubles moving the football and amid 204 yards mustered just six points in the fourth quarter. Wyatt Bailey blocked the PAT to keep it 14-6 with six minutes to play.
Chase Dunlap kicked a field goal to seal it and then Sizemore picked off a Greenbrier pass to essentially end the game.
Beech 27, White House 16
Jalen Hurd may have been a sophomore, but in week five against White House, the 6-foot-2 back played like a pro. Hurd rushed for 223 yards and four touchdowns as the Bucs broke the Blue Devils four-game opening season winning streak.
White House held on the opening drive and led 3-0 on Dunlap’s 36-yard field goal, but Hurd then raced for 41 yards to make it 7-3. Hurd and Wicker traded touchdowns in the final nine minutes of the second quarter for a 14-10 lead for the Bucs at halftime.
The Devils were moving to take the lead in the third quarter but a fumble throttled a 47-yard drive and Hurd extended it to 21-10. Johnson found Sizemore for 44 yards on a reverse pass to set up a 14-yard touchdown run by Davis to make it 21-16 in the fourth.
Hurd, like he had all night, answered with a long run to put the game away. Beech had 406 total yards to 267 for White House. Beech only had the football for 22 minutes but with big plays found the endzone and never punted.
Goodpasture 24, White House 22
Three straight years the White House football team battled into a last-minute contest with district rival Goodpasture, and unfortunately finished with the same result in a 24-22 loss in Nashville. With 59 seconds left, the Cougars stopped White House on a two-point conversion.
Goodpasture led 21-10 on the first play of the fourth quarter but Caleb West blocked a field goal and White House marched quickly to make it 21-16 as Johnson found McEwen for 41 yards and Alan Cope moved it to the three yard line for 24 yards one play before Davis put it in the endzone. With 10:29 left, White House missed its first of a pair of two-point conversion attempts in the fourth quarter.
With 3:45 left, the Cougars connected on a 25-yard field goal for a 24-16 edge. Hardy then bolted 66 yards on the kick return to the Goodpasture 25, and then Johnson found Sizemore on fourth down at the two-yard line. Wicker scored on the next play with just under a minute to go. Goodpasture blitzed on the two-point conversion and Johnson’s rushed pass was incomplete. The onside kick failed for a 24-22 final.
Livingston Academy 21, White House 14
Overtime was coming with two long-time, traditional powers locked at 14-14 on the road in Overton County. But things changed in the blink of an eye, and the Blue Devils stared at heartbreak with a 21-14 loss on a huge play by the hosts.
The Wildcats had no timeouts and were 61 yards away from the end zone in the final seconds, but quarterback Brock McCoin found Creed Hayes for a 61-yard slip screen which broke down the sideline for a touchdown. The game had been knotted at 14-all since the second quarter.
White House struggled all night, with 71 yards in penalties, an ejection and the potential game-winning touchdown erased off the board by a yellow flag McEwen caught just two passes for 22 yards, but late in the fourth quarter caught an 85-yard strike from Johnson that was wiped away by a holding penalty. Moving the football inside White House’s own 10, the ensuing punt set up the Wildcats for the winner from their own 39.
The Blue Devils also lost possession in the fourth quarter on an interception – originally ruled pass interference against the defense – which was picked up to give Livingston Academy the football with 5:04 left. Had the penalty been allowed, the Blue Devils would have retained possession in Livingston territory.
White House rushed 32 times for 228 yards led by Wicker with 172, but a long run to put him over the 200-yard mark was negated by a penalty. The passing offense netted just 44 yards. McCoin was brilliant with 306 total yards for the Wildcats, 200 by himself. There were 21 points in the first quarter with Livingston leading 14-7 before White House tied the game on a 50-yard run. A critical fumble inside the Livingston two-yard line turned it over on the first drive of the third and there were no red zone drives the remainder of the game.
White House lost games 5-6-7 on the schedule for the third straight year.
White House 41, Macon County 21
White House blitzed the Macon County Tigers to break the losing streak in week eight with 467 yards of total offense and a 34-point lead before finishing with a 41-21 victory.
Johnson completed 5-of-9 for 126 yards and three touchdowns and found Honeycutt on a two-point conversion. McEwen caught three touchdowns, and West had a 43-yard run, as Wicker led all rushers with 14 carries for 141 yards. Sophomore Bailey Burns rushed 13 times for 68 yards. Johnson was named the player of the week by a local television station after throwing for three scores, and adding two turnovers with an interception and fumble recovering on defense.
Smith County 35, White House 12
Nothing much went right for the visitors in week nine as the Smith County Owls remained undefeated with a 35-12 win over the Blue Devils. Smith County had 343 yards, 233 of which before half for a 21-6 lead at the break.
Wicker rushed for 101 yards on 17 carries but had to leave the game with a minor injury, and White House closed a large margin late in the fourth quarter with a 45-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to McEwen. The Blue Devils had just 223 yards of total offense.
White House 41, Sycamore 27
Senior night was an offensive show for the White House Blue Devils to clinch a home game in the playoffs with a 47-21 win over Sycamore.
The Blue Devils had 23 first down and 461 total yards on a Thursday contest to end the regular season.
Johnson completed 12-of-18 passes for 173 yards and four touchdowns and Wicker rushed 14 times for 107 yards. West rushed for 50 yards in the game and the former tailback went over 1,000 yards for his career in the game.
White House led 27-7 at halftime, and McEwen had five catches for 120 yards and two scores and Sizemore added two touchdown receptions. Omar Hollins, a senior, scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter on the ground.
White House 29, Sycamore 6
A rematch was the first round playoff game and White House struggled early but finished well with a 29-6 opening victory over Sycamore at home.
Leading just 7-0 in the third quarter, the Blue Devils scored 22 points in the final two frames to put away a team that they rolled for 467 yards of total offense the previous week. This time, Sycamore matched the effort in yards, moving the ball for 305 while White House racked up 317, but three interceptions marred the chances for the War Eagles to put the ball in the endzone.
Wicker rushed 26 times for 214 yards and two touchdowns and Johnson added a rushing touchdown and 73 yards passing with a score.
White House 42, Page 6
A big upset by the Page Patriots in the first round helped White House avoid a rematch with the 2010 playoff foe Lexington, and the Blue Devils took advantage with an offensive explosion and 42-6 trouncing of the guest Patriots in the second round.
After Page knocked off unbeaten Lexington, 17-6, in the first round, White House earned an extra home game as the higher seed. Wicker broke a playoff record on the ground with 305 yards rushing. The previous record was set by Brian Jones, with 261 yards against Portland in 1998. James Taylor holds the single game record with 379 yards in a regular season win over Macon County in 1990.
In two games, Wicker accomplished 526 yards and six touchdowns. White House led Page 440-171 as the defense put forth one of its best efforts of the season.
White House moved to the quarterfinals for the second straight season and finished the 2011 season undefeated at home (7-0). Page finished 6-6, and ironically never won, nor lost two consecutive games the entire season.
Maplewood 31, White House 0
A disappointing end to a fantastic season was the result in the third round at Maplewood as the powerful Panthers took advantage of five White House turnovers and rolled to a 31-0 win.
Denzel Jones was the second string back and entered the game by injury, but rushed 14 times for 120 yards and three touchdowns, and Maplewood put up 390 yards of total offense, 297 of which on the ground. The Blue Devils completed 13-of-23 passes for 120 yards but Johnson and West were picked off three times combined, and two fumbles hurt a rushing night that just had 49 total yards on the ground.
White House had the ball just 21 minutes and were also sacked twice. McEwen had six catches for 75 yards but like his teammates did not find the end zone.
It was the first time White House had been shut out in the playoffs since a 21-0 loss to Marshall County in 1988, and only the third time in history a postseason team at White House did not score in a single game.