Blue Devils aim for 2-0 start in first meeting with Colts
By Kris Freeman, Sports Information Director, White House High School
(WHITE HOUSE) – The roles are reversed for White House this week in the school’s first-ever matchup with Glencliff, as the Blue Devils welcome the Colts for Homecoming and play a larger school. After defeating Class 2-A East Robertson in the season opener, now 4-A White House takes a step up in classification against the 6-A squad from Nashville.
Glencliff fell 55-0 to Mount Juliet last Friday while White House won, 35-0. The Devils slammed the door on the Indians offense, allowing just 70 yards while sacking Cameron Swift five times and forcing two interceptions and four fumbles, one lost.
“It’s really important for us to build on the positives of last week,” said 31st-year head coach Jeff Porter, whose team broke a 13-game losing streak. “We ran well on defense to get to the ball and now that becomes a challenge and a must this week against Glencliff. Field position was critical for us last week, keeping the field flipped and creating shorter drives for us and longer drives for their offense.”
Senior linebacker Tyler McMurtry led the team with 13 tackles, but Colby Taylor was also in double digits and junior Joey Cartwright had three sacks. With Brett Drake and Miller Lowe grabbing interceptions and Carter Hunt recovering a fumble, the coach expects to reinforce the importance of ball control and pressure this week.
Glencliff was also winless last season, so the Colts are now hungry for a win and scoring their first points of the year. The Colts have lost 17 in a row dating back to Sept. 11, 2015, an 8-7 victory over Hillwood. Glencliff was down 41-0 at halftime against the Golden Bears last week and gave up 14 more points in the fourth quarter to the Mt. Juliet reserves.
Mt. Juliet scored on three rushing touchdowns in the first quarter as the Colts failed to sustain drives, and led 28-0 at the end of one including a 36-yard pick six. Five of the Bears six touchdowns came on the ground and the one on defense.
“We are going to see some type of spread,” he said. “I expect them to come out in a combination of doubles to each side or stack the trips with an X, but one of the challenges for us is they can play two quarterbacks and one is a running threat and the other can throw.”
White House churned out almost 170 yards on the ground in week one with a balanced stable of backs, but the passing games provided some key pops of big plays with long passes to Curtis Palmer and Seth Bumbalough for touchdowns. Quarterback Andrew Nixon completed 4-of-7 passes in the game for two touchdowns, adding a strike to Will Frazer out of the backfield and a pretty catch by Cameron Casanova between defenders.
With any Nashville large classification school, athleticism is an equalizer and size is always the wild card.
“They’re going to load the box up front and force us to try to power the football and the run game,” Porter said. “But we are going to see man-to-man coverage in the passing game because of the athleticism they exhibit to be able to cover us. We have to be able too run the ball and sustain some drives.”
Jacob Harper took over kicking duties for the Blue Devils and connected on 3-of-4 extra points and manned kickoff duty, as the Devils allowed just one return over 20 yards. Kevin James punted just once as the offense was effective. But when athleticism enters the equation, the great equalizer is the kicking game.
“The kicking game is always critical when you face athletic teams,” Porter said.
The Blue Devils emerged fairly healthy after week one, but are nursing a couple of injuries that will be game-time decisions. That is very important entering this week as the new TSSAA schedules now provide an off-week during the season and White House will be open in week three before a trip to Hunters Lane. That extra week in the hotter months of the year may be a solid step to preparing for the first region game in week five against Springfield.
For now, the focus is keeping eyes on the football game in the midst of Homecoming week. The Glencliff game is Homecoming likely because of scheduling quirks. White House opened the season at home, and has a 1997 state championship reunion against Springfield. The Creekwood game in week eight comes after fall break and then week nine is senior night. So, Glencliff in week two was the logical choice.
“Homecoming is important, but it’s really not the same distraction for players as it might have been 20 or 30 years ago,” Porter said. “Our job is from the time we step onto the practice field until Friday night and includes our weight room, preparation and film study and whether or not it’s Homecoming, the challenge for us remains the same to be ready to play on Friday night.”
Kickoff is 7:30. The parade begins at 5 p.m. and Homecoming festivities are at halftime.
Tim Coker of Sumner Home Page contributed to this story with preview questions for Coach Porter. Visit their page online!