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Airedales’ White Eager to Help the Team 8/17/21

Airedales’ White eager to help the team

By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools 

 

The kid in the No. 7 Alma football jersey won't be at the top of the opposing coaches' depth charts this season. That distinction belongs to teammate Conner Stacy. 

And that's just fine with White, whose Alma roots are connected with the school's last state championship run.

BriLee White will be ready. 

"I'm looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s pretty exciting. I'm going to make plays for this team."

Pressure?

"There's a little bit of pressure," White said. "But I'm not going to let the pressure get to me; I'm just going to give it my all."

As a junior, White caught four passes for 25 yards and a touchdown. Stacy led Alma with 27 receptions for 353 yards and three TDs in 2020. 

But the Alma senior, whose uncle, an old-school straight-on field goal kicker, booted an overtime FG to push Alma past Wynne in the 1999 semifinals under then head coach Frank Vines, is a long way from where he was at this point two years ago. 

White knew the process wouldn't be easy. But that didn't make the path any less frustrating.

Then 5-foot-5 and 135 pounds, White was one of the smaller players in middle school.

"Starting in seventh grade, I was pretty small," White said. "It was a grind to get where I am now, putting on muscle and getting faster."

White and the Airedales scrimmage Southside at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Airedale Stadium. 

High school football careers aren't necessarily won on Friday nights. Some are born in empty stadiums with undersized seventh-graders. White, one of Alma's most experienced returning receivers, wasn't on the team's depth chart as a sophomore.

"It was pretty challenging, just knowing they're (teammates) 20 times bigger than you because they've had two years of experience on you," he said. "I thought about quitting; I was pretty beat-down mentally that year. (But) I fought through and kept going.

"Looking back, I'm glad I did."

So are his coaches.

“Conner's got to be able to tote the mail for us,” coach Rusty Bush said. “But more importantly, guys like BriLee White, Matthew Schlegel, and Devin Ramos, they’ve got to take some pressure off of Conner.

“People are going to double-team Conner, so that’s where we have to gain an advantage.”

With his sophomore season behind him, White had a taste of the good life during Alma’s 49-35 loss to Greenbrier, where he caught two passes for 11 yards, including a six-yard TD reception. 

"My sophomore year was a pretty discouraging year," he said. "(But) I really fought through that to get to my junior year. I got to play a good amount, so my senior year, it should be fun."

Now, he’s one of the players current middle-schoolers are looking up to.

"It means everything," he said. "I used to look up to Alma players, and now some little kid is looking up to me.

“Knowing they look up to you is a nice feeling."