WHITE HOUSE – Giles County ended the season for White House Friday night, beating the Blue Devils 34-10 at home to advance to the Class 4-A semifinals.
It was the fourth straight loss for White House in the Class 4-A quarterfinals, but this senior class played 52 games in their career and won back-to-back District 9-AA championships, a first since the 1997-98 season.
“They have represented this community and our school so well,” said White House head coach Jeff Porter after the game. “To end up the season undefeated in the district and get to the quarterfinals is a huge credit to our kids. They showed what being unselfish can do. It allows great things to happen.”
Quarterback Trevor Holder of Giles County was too much for White House, accounting for three rushing touchdowns and a passing score, including 153 yards through the air and 56 on the ground. Holder was the focus of the game after starting tailback Brandon Houston missed with an injury.
As a result, the Bobcats scored on all three possessions in the first half to take a 20-3 lead at the half. White House opened the game with an onside kick and recovered it, but then fumbled the ball at the Giles County 30. The Bobcats, for the first of two occasions, responded with a touchdown off a turnover.
“We were not surprised that Houston did not play,” Porter explained. “But their adjustment to use the quarterback to run was an important decision. They kept him in shotgun and spread the field out with an empty backfield and that creates a lot of matchup issues for us. It was a good scheme.”
White House also lost its starting tailback when Alex Felts, who battled leg injuries all season, left the game in the first quarter with six carries for 20 yards. His replacement was solid, as Bailey Burns carried 22 times for 103 yards and a touchdown, shortening the gap to 20-10 in the third quarter.
Burns made his key play on defense, nearly sacking Holder at the 2-yard-line but the Giles quarterback slung the ball away for an intentional grounding penalty. After a short punt, White House scored to cut the margin in half.
But Kenton Baker returned the next kickoff 78 yards and Holder cashed in on a one-yard touchdown run to push the lead back to 17.
“Bailey Burns is very unselfish,” Porter said. “He has done what we have asked him to do on both sides of the ball and he did that tonight. I am so proud of this entire senior class, and Felts played hurt the entire year and just kept fighting.”
Taylor Wood, a senior linebacker, led the defense with 19 tackles and sophomore defensive tackle Blaiz Phillips had 10. Wood broke the career record for tackles passing Kevin Jackson, a former teammate and linebacker, 368 to 357.
But in the end, the effort was not enough as Trey Beets of Giles County picked off a Ryan Pool pass and ran it back to the 5-yard-line. Pool and Alex Lyon combined to throw just 2-of-8 for two yards in the game.
“Ryan Pool is highly respected on this team and I am very proud of a kid who got 25 starts at quarterback and he is a leader on our team,” Porter said. “Tonight was a tough night for him and Alex (Lyon), but I am so thankful Alex came to play football his senior season and how he conducted himself to fit into this team on and off the field is highly respected among his coaches and his teammates.”
White House finished 10-3, and Giles County at 11-2 returns home to face Memphis Trezevant in the semifinals. The last semifinal win for Giles County was 2009 when the Bobcats won the state championship.
Wood will play Dec. 13 in the Toyota East-West All-Star Classic game at Tennessee Tech, coached by Porter and two White House assistants, Jim Grantham and Ryan Hamilton. He will be on the West side of the bracket, and will be joined by Giles County’s Kenton Baker, who had 114 all-purpose yards Friday night.