Over the years, the Whitehaven Tigers have consistently been among the best high school football teams in Memphis. The current team has set its sight on a team from the past the 2011 team that had six shutout games. The coaching staff has famously taken to treating the team to doughnuts when they hold opponents scoreless.
Going into a vital district game against the White Station Spartans, Whitehaven had three shutouts and they made it four, with a 17-0 drubbing of the Spartans – their first win in district play. So . . . more doughnuts.
The game was a defensive battle. Whitehaven scored first on a field goal, but the first touchdown on an interception that was run back into the endzone by Whitehaven LB Richard Ellis. Ellis rumbled 23-yards for the score (10-0).
The Tigers defense held the powerful rushing attack of the Spartans to -5 rushing yards. The Spartans standout RB Jaylen Caver was held to six rushing yards for the entire game.
“These guys continue to communicate and continue to challenge each other,” said Whitehaven head coach Rodney Saulsberry. “They have a chance to be a great defense. We are challenging them, because they are very good, but we want greatness out of them.”
Junior QB Dwight Holmes was 10 of 27 on passing attempts going for 95 yards and threw three interceptions.
”This is a tough one. I knew it was going to be a defensive battle going in,” said longtime White Station head coach Ride Yarbrough. “Our defense did what it needed to do to win the game. Our offense couldn’t get anything going. That is one of the best defenses in the state and one of the best I have ever seen in my 12 years.”
The Spartans were missing a key offensive piece in senior offensive tackle Ray Curry. At 6’6″, the 315-pound tackle helps open up running and pass protection for the Spartans.
“Of course it makes a difference,” Yarbrough said of missing a key player. “But at the end of the day, it is next man up. We just have to execute and play.
“I am proud of the way we fought. We did not lay down,” Yarbrough added. “We played hard. We will tell them to keep fighting, it is a long season. It shows the character of a team when you don’t give up.”
Whitehaven’s offense was a little more effective. The strong offensive line was able to control the clock. The Tigers rushed for 155 yards with Cameron Sneed rushing for 68 yards. QB Keyshawn Harris was right behind him with 66 yards, scoring the only offensive touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Harris also threw for 76 yards.
“We are on the cusp of greatness offensively,” Saulsberry said. “You can see some of the plays that are opening up. We have to keep grinding that ax and sharping our tools. We are excited about where we are going offensively. Once we make one play it gets easier. We just have to get that monkey off of our backs.”
White Station (5-3,1-1) will play an out of district game in two weeks when they travel to MUS to play the Owls on October 25 at 7 pm. Whitehaven (6-1,1-0) will have a rare double-bye season. After being off last week, they’re off again this week. They’ll next host Germantown on October 25 at 7 p.m. This will be their first home game since August 30 when they defeat Ridgeway (23-7).