TATUM, Texas — In week four of Under the Lights, one team put surrounding teams on notice. The Tatum Eagles found momentum and are holding on to it right before district winning two back to back games after starting the season 0-2.
Head coach Whitney Keeling is in his first season at Tatum after spending the last 12 seasons leading the Waskom Wildcats. While 0-2 isn't ideal, Keeling said he put his trust in his team.
"Very easily they can be down, starting 0-2," Keeling said. "But they're good kids and they've worked really hard and have done everything that I've asked them to do."
Starting off the season winless is what usually tests coaches and Keeling accepted the challenge and his team responded. First against Pittsburg in an emotional school tribute to the Mayflower Panthers. From there, they knocked down the No. 4 ranked team in the region, West Rusk, by double digits.
Their victory was the direct result of a complete ball game on both ends of the field. Senior defensive tackle Cullen Fite recorded nine tackles, a tackle for loss, a fumble recovery and a QB pressure. The team leader said headed into Friday, the rankings didn't matter.
"We just knew what we had to do," Fite said. "We didn't go in there thinking they're higher than us, bigger or better. We just knew if we could play like we can play, we can beat any team."
Keeling in a new place, implemented a completely different scheme.
"Going from a wide open spread offense to more of ground and pound type, control the clock offense, and they've bought into it," Keeling said.
Resilience and recovery is why Keeling is our coach of the week. New season, new team but the goal remains the same.
"Obviously you want to continue to get better through pre-district," Keeling said. "When district starts, you want to win the district championship. That's what I'm looking forward to. And then after that, once you get in the playoffs, anything can happen any Friday night. And it'd be really nice to play all the way through and put a ring on somebody's finger."