‘Cats deny Tribe first win in new stadium

by Arron Swink Contributing Writer

The Jacksonville Fightin’ Indians came into last Friday night’s contest needing a win over the rival Whitehouse Wildcats to even up their district record after dropping the District 9-5A-II opener in Nacogdoches. The ‘Cats had designs on denying the Tribe their first win in the newly-renovated Tomato Bowl, coming out on top by a score of 25-13.

Whitehouse got the proceedings underway by showcasing their strong running game – which would be a theme all night long – when halfback Peyton Kennedy barreled in for a touchdown from four yards out halfway through the first quarter. WHS then lined up for a two point conversion in a bid to take all the momentum from the home team early on. Wildcat quarterback Kaden Casey took matters into his own hands, running in to give the visitors the 8-0 advantage.

Jacksonville’s first sustained resulted in senior running back Aaron Richardson finding paydirt with a one-yard plunge at the 7:29 mark of the second quarter. Unfortunately for Jacksonville, junior quarterback Patrick Clater (who also handles holding duties on place kicks) couldn’t secure the snap was forced to pick up and run in an unsuccessful attempt at two points.

Whitehouse continued to churn out yardage on the ground, efficiently matriculating the ball down the field before Casey sprinted 34 yards with another keeper. Cooper Clemons added the extra point to put the men in maroon and white on top, 15-6, with 5:51 to go before the halftime buzzer sounded.

Jacksonville’s next attempts stalled before Clemons was called on again to add a field goal from 27 yards away. As the teams headed into the locker rooms, Whitehouse enjoyed an 18-6 lead and appeared to have all of the momentum in the contest.

After the halftime activities, which included the WHS First Ladies drill team celebrating their 50th season and Jacksonville’s Cherokee Charmers their 35th, the Indian defense took the field first looking for a stop to swing the pendulum back to the home side. Kenny Canady’s charges got all that and more when a Casey fumble at the Wildcat 45 was scooped by the Tribe’s LaTrail Rivers and returned for a score, igniting wild celebrations among the blue and gold faithful. JHS senior kicker Alejandro Pina Sanchez added the extra point and the Indians found themselves back in striking distance down only 18-13.

The comeback was not to be, however, as Whitehouse stuck to its run-first game plan to ice the game and make sure the first win at Tomato Bowl eluded the Tribe for at least two more weeks. After grinding down the Tribe defense, who were unable to generate any offensive spark after the scoop-and-score, Kennedy received another Casey handoff and barged in for a three-yard score before the end of the third quarter.

Jacksonville was unable to light the scoreboard again for the remainder of the contest as Whitehouse shut them down in all facets of the game. The Indians only managed 186 yards of total offense against the Wildcats’ 335. Chris Carpenter, the senior Colorado commit and Clater’s favorite target thus far, led all JHS receivers, but only tallied 58 yards on three catches. Richardson was the top runner again, but only to the tune of 46 yards on ten carries, though he did have a score.

The rest of the district season will not offer the Fightin’ Indians many breaks: a trip to Pine Tree to battle a much-improved Pirate squad awaits Wayne Coleman and his men this Friday. The Pirates boast a 2-0 mark in league play thus far after plundering Hallsville in the opener and Mount Pleasant last week.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in Longview. Indian fans can tune in to JHS-Sports.com for all the action beginning at 6:45.