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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

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Whitehaven seeks gold-ball award for championship-caliber team

Most high schools would love to have their football teams go 11-3 and make it to the state semi-finals. Whitehaven High School hit that mark last season. However, after coming off of a perfect 14-0 season and a state championship, the Tigers wanted badly to repeat.

This season, the Tigers are once again harboring state championship aspirations and the gold-ball dividend. Thus their goals: Defend the home turf, pay back the two teams (Lausanne and Germantown) that handed Whitehaven home losses last season and make it back to Cookeville for the state championship game.

Vincent Guy once again is the starting quarterback and head coach Rodney Saulsberry has added elite-caliber players to an already stacked lineup.  Running back Devin Boddie Jr. has transferred to Whitehaven from Lausanne. Keveon Mullins, a 6’4” 205-pound wide receiver, transfers in from East and will give Guy a big downfield target.

Although experienced at quarterback, Guy’s scholarship offers are for the defensive back position and he will be used on defense this season. Keyshawn Harris, a junior, will be pushing Guy for playing time at quarterback.

In Mullins, the Tigers have a receiver that caught 52 passes for 1,011 yards last season. He will be called upon to give the Tigers some aerial punch to go with their traditionally strong running game. 

Whitehaven leading rusher Chris Witherspoon has graduated, which brings an opportunity for other backs to step up. Cameron Sneed rushed in five games last season and showed some dynamic ability.  He – along with Ariyon Paige, Antonio Hall and Jamal Frazier – will be leaned upon to make plays behind a big and powerful offensive line. None of the running backs are seniors.

Bryson Eason, one of the best players in the city, will anchor the Tigers’ defensive unit. Eason, a 6’1” junior linebacker, weighs 238 pounds and is being recruited by Arkansas, Florida, Florida State, Georgia and Memphis.

“Bryson is a physical specimen, but now it is just playing the mental part of the game now for him,” Saulsberry said.

Asked if this is one of his most talented teams on paper, Saulsberry said, “Right now it looks that way. Games don’t happen on paper. You have to perform and get it done in live action.  In practice, these guys work hard. This is a hard working group that likes to get everyone better.”

Cormontae Hamilton, a 6’-3” 230-pound wide receiver and tight end, took an 18-hour bus ride to an Ohio State summer camp and landed a scholarship offer.

“The mere fact that the kid rode the bus up there to a camp is amazing. This day and age you don’t see that from kids; humble enough to take that trip,” Saulsberry said. “Ohio State is getting a great player, a humble player that is only going to get better as he improves and he taps into the potential that we see he has.”

The Tigers open their season hosting the Whitehaven Classic on Saturday (August 18). They play Fairley’s Bulldogs in the last of three games. Former Whitehaven assistant football coach Gene Robinson coaches the Bulldogs. At 3:30 p.m. Westwood takes on Hamilton, followed by Southwind vs. Mitchell at 5:30 p.m.

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