(White House) – One team is making history and another is hoping history repeats itself. White House Heritage and White House High face big battles in the second round of the TSSAA state playoffs Friday, and at stake is a quarterfinal berth.
For the Blue Devils, it would mean a 19th trip to the quarterfinal round, and a third straight in Class 4-A. White House is 48-29 all-time in the playoffs. Heritage lost its only previous second round game in 2009 at Trousdale County and now holds a 2-4 record all-time in the postseason with only its second first-round win. A quarterfinal round appearance would be the first in school history.
White House hosts Maplewood (7-4) at home. Maplewood has enjoyed a successful run in the past decade, rebounding from to winless seasons in 2003-04 for a 15-7 decade playoff record and two appearances in the state title game, both losses. That includes last year to Greeneville after beating White House 31-0 in the quarterfinals.
White House Heritage travels in the Class 2-A bracket to Loretto (7-3) for the second round. Loretto held a first-round bye. LHS is 7-12 all-time in the postseason.
Both teams are 6-5 after the Patriots knocked off Houston County, and the Blue Devils dropped Chester County Friday night.
“It’s no different than last week,” said White House head coach Jeff Porter. “We are going to prepare the best we can, focus, and execute the game plan and we are going to have to give a great effort Friday night.”
Maplewood features a pass-happy, spread offense, much different than the Panthers which powered the football for over 300 yards rushing in last year’s playoff game. With senior Grant Wicker now over the 1,700-yard mark for the season, the Blue Devils will be pressed to run against a Maplewood team which contained a talented Crockett County backfield in week 11, en route to a 15-3 victory.
Still, it all starts with fundamentals. The Blue Devils have been solid lately on third and fourth down on defense, but are struggling with a minus-five turnover ratio. The typical physical defensive style of the Panthers poses problems for a White House team with 14 lost fumbles and 21 turnovers.
“We’re not going to win every play, we just have to constantly win the next one,” Porter said. “A win for us may be a three or four yard gain, or making a big tackle. But for 48 minutes we’re going to have to play hard.”
Typically, Davidson County teams struggle in the kicking game. This is not the case for the 2012 version of the Panthers, who possess speed in the return game, and put two kickoffs in the endzone for a touchback Friday night.
“They are very improved in the kicking game, but we have to be concerned that our kicking game is successful, whether that means kicking it out of bounds to avoid a big return or punting to one third of the field,” Porter noted. “This Maplewood team is a different philosophy, but they have a quarterback and receivers and can move it all over the field, and we are going to have to take care of the football and execute in the important things to win this game.”
The White House Heritage Patriots are riding momentum, coming off two victories in the past three weeks. White House Heritage defeated East Robertson in week nine, took a bye in week 10, then traveled to Erin for a dominating 37-12 revenge victory over Houston County.
In week three, the Irish beat Heritage for the first time. But now, the Patriots own a 4-1 series lead after throttling the Green on the road by 25 points.
“Friday night was our best defensive effort of the year,” said White House Heritage head coach Pat Brown. “I am really proud of our kids. If we can continue to play that hard and get a couple of breaks, then that’s playoff football. It’s going to take a big effort Friday night.”
The Mustangs will host Heritage in an environment ready for small-town football. One of the noticeable things about film study for Coach Brown was the crowd noise. On the field, it was the size of a front line pushing an I-backfield on offense and a 3-4 defense.
“This is a great atmosphere for high school football,” he said. “They have a great field, great facilities and you can really hear the crowd on the game film, but they are a small town excited for their team. But they also have some guys across the front line which are a concern for us – one at 405 pounds, another at 330, and several at 260. That’s going to be a challenge.”
Heritage senior quarterback Christian Reid will tackle the challenge along with backs Chris Howard and Zach Scannell, and receivers Devin Wright and Caleb Anderson. The key starts up front and establishing a power game.
“We have to do a good job with our power and edge game and let the quarterback just kind of happen,” Brown explained. “We have to create some opportunities and definitely take advantage with the power game. As big as they are, we have to establish inside and get something to break.”
“There is no substitute for momentum, but that also gives them a week to work on some things and scheme up a few things you haven’t seen,” Coach Brown added. “We had some momentum after week nine but had some defensive lapses at the end of the game, and that week off was a good teaching time to shore things up.”
Both games kick off at 7 p.m. With a win, White House Heritage would travel to Mt. Pleasant or top-seeded Adamsville. White House faces a possible road game at Lexington, or home game with Liberty Tech.