D.J. White’s been in this scenario before. A two-sport athlete at University High, White’s seen playoff action on the hardwood, so Friday’s quarterfinal start wasn’t as nerve-wracking as some speculated.
“I’ve been in this situation since I was 14,” White said. “I kind of know how to go about this.”
Making the first playoff start of his career under center, White threw for 266 yards and four touchdowns — three of which came in the first half — while a ferocious Cub defense held Vandebilt Catholic to 36 net rushing yards in a 44-6 rout at Richard Gill Stadium on Friday.
After misfiring on his first two throws, White found Chris Raymond streaking down his sideline in single coverage for a 65 yard score on the fifth play of the game, putting the Cubs up 7-0 just 53 seconds into the game.
Raymond — the son of LSU defensive backs coach Corey Raymond — had four catches for 92 yards in the first half and started a trend of big plays that carried the Cubs to a comfortable 30-0 halftime lead.
Unable to extend a 16-0 lead for much of the second quarter and with a scrappy Vandebilt Catholic defensive front containing the run, the Cubs unloaded a minute-long aerial attack at the end of the half to put things out of reach.
Facing third and 14 with just under two minutes remaining, White found Malik Antoine on a crossing route for a 58-yard touchdown to cap a four-play drive consisting mostly of freshman running back Mike Hollins.
Hollins and two-way senior Jordan Davis combined for 175 tough yards against a disciplined Terriors front — Hollins becoming the fourth U-High rusher to surpass 100 yards in a game this season.
White ended any upset inclinations on the Cubs’ next drive, hitting Christian Harris on a wide receiver screen for a 50-yard touchdown on the first play to put the Cubs up 30-0.
“Some big third down conversions which was good to see,” Cubs coach Chad Mahaffey said. “If we can be balanced, I think we’ve been running the ball well, if we can do some things in the air, we’ll be tough to beat.”
Harris, one of seven receivers to catch a pass, added a 24-yard score in the third quarter to up the score to 44-0.
Mirroring last season’s state championship run, the Cubs played the quarterfinals after a bye week. And, like last season, Mahaffey saw little to no rust — perhaps the only blip was U-High’s nine penalties.
“They did a good job of mixing up some fronts and things and I think we probably had some blown assignments,” Mahaffey said. “But I thought the kids played really fast. I thought they looked fresh and that’s what you really wanted to see.
Jeremy Jetson added two forced fumbles in the second half, both on Vandebilt Catholic quarterback David Yancey — who was tasked with creating the Terriers’ offense after leading rusher Brennan Rogers wasn’t able to break a stout Cubs defensive front and eventually left the game after taking a massive hit in the second quarter.
Freshman Andrew Robison eventually relieved Yancey late in the third quarter, tossing a 57-yard touchdown to Kane Degruise to get the Terriers on the board.
“We had a couple opportunities early and just missed some throws and catches,” Vandebilt coach Jeremy Atwell said. “Things like that happen, injuries throughout, that was our third running back that went down for us this year. But you can’t do those things against a good team.”