It's nothing personal against the Wildcats, but Whitehouse just doesn't win when it comes to football. Since 1947, the Wildcats have produced just 12 winning seasons entering 2006. They had made the playoffs four times, winning just two playoff games. In 1978, the Wildcats won the district championship and finished 9-2. Since then, they have had just three winning seasons, and one playoff berth.
In 2004, Whitehouse decided they were tired of watching everyone else in the district achieve postseason success on the gridiron and decided to do something about it. That's when they hired Randy McFarlin away from Daingerfield. In six seasons at Daingerfield, McFarlin's Tigers made six straight playoff appearances, winning nine playoff games, advancing to the state quarterfinals three times, the state semifinals twice, and the state finals once, losing to Newton in 1998.
"When I talked to the (Whitehouse ISD football coach search) committee and accepted this job," said McFarlin, "I felt like the committee there, and the administration were committed to a winning program, and that's very important coming into a community. You have to have the support, both financially, and just the support in general to make this thing work. We had to make a lot of changes in Whitehouse, Texas to get this program's foot on the ground, and the third year, here we are still playing, I'm very pleased with the progress."
But that progress was in jeopardy early this year. After giving up 70 points in the first two games of the season, including a 42-36 loss to Sulphur Springs in week two, McFarlin and his coaching staff shook up the program. They brought in several sophomores from the junior varsity, including a new quarterback. They also committed several of their top athletes primarily to defense.
"At that point after week two, we looked where we were at, and knew, at the level we wanted to play as a coaching staff, we had to make some changes," McFarlin said, "and there again, I don't know if it's luck or what, but it worked out for us. "
Boy did it work. After giving up 42 points in week two, the Wildcats defense allowed just 41 points over the next six games, setting up a district title showdown with Marshall. Whitehouse won a thriller at Wildcat stadium, 35-34. In ten games since the change, the Wildcats have outscored their opponents by 144 points and have posted a 9-1 record. Overall they are 10-2, the best record in school history, and are in the third round of the playoffs for the first time in school history.
"We're very thrilled that it did work," McFarlin said. "It makes you look pretty good when it works, and pretty bad the other way if it hadn't worked, but we're just very fortunate it worked for us and we're still playing."
How long will they continue to play? That remains to be seen. Waco is their next challenge Saturday afternoon.