“If it doesn’t fit the kids, you’re not going to be good.”
That is what the new offensive coordinator for the Whitehouse football program, Akeem Leviston, believes it is necessary to be a successful team.
Coach Leviston, or “Coach Lev,” as the players refer to him, accepted the position just before the end of the 2017-2018 school year. He and his wife, Jennifer, moved to Whitehouse from the Irving area where he coached at Irving Nimitz. The couple has a daughter, Emory, who is four months old.
Marcus Gold accepted the head coaching position at Whitehouse after former head coach Adam Cook took on the responsibility as athletic director for the Whitehouse Independent School District. Gold had been the defensive coordinator, and Evan Beaton was promoted to fill that position.
Gold helped the Whitehouse defense to vastly improve during the past two seasons, while the offense was not as successful as previous seasons.
Leviston is not concerned about the decline of the offensive statistics the past two seasons. He envisions a game where it isn’t necessary to just outscore every opponent. He has a name for it.
“You have to play complementary football, complementary to the defense.”
Leviston explained that if the offense keeps scoring on quick drives, it forces the defense back on the field more often.
“We have to control the clock a little bit more and keep those guys off the field. Score on a five-minute drive as opposed to a 30-second drive. Get two first downs and flip the field, work for field advantage,” he said, and added, “We’ve got to really play off of each other.”
Leviston said it is possible that during some games Beaton or Gold will approach him to let him know the defense is unable to stop the opponent’s offense.
“We’ve got to hold onto the ball or we may have to play it slow, play for field position,” Leviston said of those situations.
While Leviston has had limited opportunity to evaluate the 2018 players, he has been able to view video and had a front row seat for the group of Whitehouse athletes who participated in the Texas 7-on-7 Championships that concluded in late June.
“We’ve got a better collection of skilled kids than we ever had in my six years at Nimitz,” he said. “It’s not even close.”
Leviston, however, cautions his players.
“We can’t just go out there and say we’re going to score 48 points every game and hope the defensive shuts them down to 46,” he said. “That usually doesn’t bode well for you.”
Whitehouse will maintain a spread style of offense and Leviston believes the starting quarterback will have to play smart. While Flint Harrington filled the position during the 7-on-7 competition, Leviston said the starting job is still wide open.
“It is up for debate,” Leviston said of the signal-caller. “They’re going to have to work for it. We’re going to let those kids battle it out. “
Leviston is looking for the quarterback who can lead the team and can move the ball. He also believes it will be important to play smart and that doing so is even more important than physical ability.
“It won’t be determined by how far they can throw the ball or how fast they can run,” he said of his choice for quarterback. “It’s about making the right decisions.”
Leviston will be looking for the athlete who can think quickly on his feet. The starting signal-caller will need to know what all of the players are going to do and to do so while the play clock is ticking down.
Leviston also believes the Wildcats have a very capable receiving corps.
“Collectively, we’ve got some big receivers that you don’t usually see on one high school team, and if they play well, we’re going to do well,” he said.
The new offensive coordinator said he is impressed with Kyndal Fry.
“He may be the most explosive player we have,” Leviston said.
Whitehouse will face stout opponents in the pre-district part of the season, including Henderson and Melissa. Henderson is ranked eighth in Class-4A, Division I in the Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine poll, while Melissa is ranked 10th in the same poll. Leviston said he feels playing those teams as well as rival Chapel Hill will be a “good measuring stick” to determine the needs of the offense.
“It’s important to have success in those first three games but by week four [district competition], we need to be ready to play,” Leviston said.
Whitehouse will first scrimmage at Kaufman at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17. The Wildcats will follow with a scrimmage with Joshua at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24, at A.C. Middle School in Mesquite.
“When we start camp, I want to have a good base of what we’re going to do,” said Leviston, who has been pouring over video of last year’s games, as well as getting the perspective of his offensive line coach. “I think we have a pretty good idea of the attack we’re going to put forward.”
While the offense will have to plug in a new lineman here or there, Leviston is positive about how well that will work. He also feels determined about his approach to the problem of finding the right player for the right position.
“They [the players] see the film; they see the Twitter highlights. They know what they’re physically capable of and they know what they can do,” he said.
He said if coaches preach win, win, win and the team fails to produce a win, the coaches will “lose them.” Leviston said a good coach needs to determine how to “get these kids to play hard week in and week out.”
If anybody can do that, Leviston can. He was a three-year starting quarterback at Rusk High School, where he earned All-State and All-District Most Valuable Player honors his senior year. He helped guide the football team and the basketball team to the State playoffs as a senior.
Leviston was heavily recruited to play football at Kilgore College, but because there was a likelihood that he would have to play on the defensive side of the ball, he instead played at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. He was the starting quarterback for the Tigers and was All-Conference as a junior. He tossed for four touchdowns in a quarter in one game, which set the school record at the time.
His first coaching position was at University of Louisiana at Monroe. He was a defensive graduate assistant and weight room intern. Despite his offensive background, Leviston said working the defensive side of the ball gave him a different prospective and has helped him develop his offensive schemes. As the weight room intern, Leviston said as first he “thought it was terrible” but looking back, he now feels it was great experience and offered more insight to the strength and conditioning aspects of sports.
After a year at Monroe, Leviston accepted the position as the receiver’s coach at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.
“That’s the first time I had been part of a ‘let’s sling it around’ type of offense. It was a wide open offense, a true air raid,” he said.
The offense set school records in passing and won the conference in 2008.
In 2010, Leviston accepted the job as quarterback’s coach at Rose Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana. A year later, he moved to Grace Prep Academy in Arlington for one year. He became the offensive coordinator at Irving Nimitz in 2012. He helped guide Nimitz to the State playoffs in 2014 and 2015.