Marlon White’s first experience as a high school head football coach couldn’t have been much more challenging.
White left Atkins, where he was defensive coordinator, to take over the Jacksonville (Fla.) Ribault program in 2020. That was also the year that the COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on high school athletics.
“It taught me a little bit about adjustments and how to do things a little bit differently than the norm,” White said Monday. “It benefited me as a first-year head coach because it gave me a chance to see things from a little bit different point of view than when I walked in. I had to adjust. It gave me some great experience with the kids using their technology to teach the game, and it made me utilize some different techniques on the field that I still use today.”
White will put into practice what he learned during two seasons at Ribault as he takes over the Southwest Guilford Cowboys program.
White, 46, succeeds Chuck Doak, who stepped down in late April after three seasons as head coach because of increased family commitments. Doak, whose team went 4-6 overall and 2-5 in the Metro 4-A Conference last season, has said he hopes remain on the Cowboys’ staff.
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A native of Centenary, S.C., White also was an assistant coach at Bishop McGuinness and Northeast Guilford before moving to Florida in 2020. He resigned after two seasons at Ribault and returned to North Carolina because his mother was diagnosed with cancer and he wanted to “help her with her journey.”
White’s Ribault teams went 4-16, but the Trojans did win two playoff games during that 2020 COVID-affected season. Ribault had not reached the third round of the postseason in the previous 26 seasons.
The U.S. Air Force veteran understands the challenges of competing in a Metro 4-A that sent Grimsley, Northern Guilford, Page, Southeast Guilford and Northwest Guilford to the Class 4-A playoffs last season. White wants his first team at Southwest Guilford to be “very disciplined, up-tempo, aggressive. We want to dictate the tempo on both sides of the ball, and we want to be very skilled on special teams. We want to win the special-teams game every game. That’s a big part of my focus.”
But even more than winning games, White says his goal “is to make sure the kids understand the discipline aspect and my expectations.
“They need to understand that they’re student-athletes and make sure their academics are in line and that the way they handle things in the building translates to the field instead of what happens on the field translating into school. We don’t want to get those priorities mixed up.
“We’re going to make sure that our kids are academically strong and they’re disciplined on the field.”
In other high school coaching news, Brad White has decided to step down as head baseball coach at Northeast Guilford. White had been a part of the Rams’ program since 1999.
“I am grateful for Brad and all that he has done to lead the Northeast baseball program,” Rams athletics director Cheri Sharp wrote in an email. “He has had the privilege to work with a team of coaches that have stuck together through it all. ... I will miss Coach White and the leadership, structure and accountability he expected from the baseball players throughout his program. I wish him the best in all he does. He will always be a part of the Ram Family.”
Contact Joe Sirera at 336-373-7034 and follow @JoeSireraSports on Twitter.