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PREP FOOTBALL: It’s Whitehaven vs. Oakland for 6A Championship

The Whitehaven Tigers (13-4) are on their way back to Cookeville to play in the 6A State Championship again for the second time in three years.

Whitehaven will face The Oakland Patriots in the title game – a team they defeated in 2016 to complete a perfect season and win the 6A State Championship.

“We told them at the beginning of the year, they don’t put the record on the championship trophy. It just says state champions,” said Whitehaven Head Coach Rodney Saulsberry. “It doesn’t matter about the record, the score . . .  just the end results.

“Our job,” Saulsberry continued, “is to do the necessary things to bring a state championship back home to Memphis and the Whitehaven community.”

But to get there, they had to beat Ravenwood. Whitehaven trailed the Ravenwood Raptors 24-22 at the half. Much of that damage was self-inflicted, Saulsberry said – and he let his team hear about it in the locker room.

“We made a lot of errors and got in our own way,” Saulsberry said. “At halftime, we challenged the guys to not be their own opponent.  In the second half, they decided to do it.”

The Tigers responded in the second half, shutting Ravenwood down and winning handily, 43-24.  The Tigers were led by junior RB Cameron Sneed, who had 165 rushing yards and four TDs. As a whole, Whitehaven rushed for 207 total yards.

Whitehaven has become a well-balanced team with the addition of junior QB Keyshawn Harris.  Harris has started the last several games after missing most of the season with a knee injury.  Harris threw for 236 yards and had two TDs and one interception.

“(Harris) missed the first eight games and we had to get him back in shape and prepared for these moments,” Saulsberry said. “As he has gotten healthy, he has resumed his role as the starting quarterback.  We are excited to have him.  He gives us another dynamic option at the quarterback position that we didn’t have.  I am ready to see what he is going to do this weekend.”

Tiger’s WR Kevon Mullins was held to only four receptions, but two of those were for touchdowns.  Mullins has been willing his way into the end zone in the past several weeks.  Meanwhile, one of Whitehaven’s most underappreciated receivers has been senior Devin Boddie Jr. Boddie had five receptions for 115 yards, and many of them were big receptions to keep drives going or to score a big touchdown.  Boddie has been exceptional in returning kickoffs as well.

“Those guys are the lynchpin of what we are doing,” Saulsberry said. “Cormontae Hamilton and Keyshawn Harris are other guys that needs to be mentioned.  Marcus Taylor stepped up and did a really good job.  Everything starts up front.  The guys up front honed in and started to execute.  That group of linemen led by Courtney Sharp and Melvin McBride they started to do their job and showed what we could do in the second half.”

Saulsberry had nothing but praise for Oakland and their coach.

“Coach Creasy is a great coach and does a great job with his team.  They are efficient and they execute their game plan,” Saulsberry said. “Any time you are playing a talented team, you have to meet them with the same level of execution. You have to meet them and win some one-on-one battles.

“It is going to be a tough fight,” he added. “We are expecting a very tough game with an old school football team. I just want our score to be just a little bit more than theirs at the end.”

Whitehaven vs. Oakland will be played Thursday, Nov. 29 at Tennessee Technical University in Cookeville. Admission is $12. The game will also be televised on CW30, or you can watch a livestream at www.nfhsnetwork.com for $9.95.

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