By Jonathan Deal
It didn’t happen overnight, but Laron White’s patience finally paid off in December. The Tanner head coach built the Rattlers into a powerhouse during his tenure, culminating with the school’s first football state championship last month. For his effort this season, White is the News Courier’s 2012 Coach of the Year.
“I remember back 10 years ago, my first year here — coaching guys like Rashard Langford,” said White at a celebration at the school last month. “Those guys laid the foundation for this program. They paved the way for these guys today. And we’ve got a goal for next year: We’re going to win it again.”
Just over a week after winning his first state championship, the Tanner coach was already looking to next season and winning another trophy. It’s not that he is not enjoying this one. That much was evident watching the veteran head coach holding that blue map close during the championship post-game press conference.
“It means so much to win this championship,” said White after the game. “For 10 years you try to run a program the right way and this is the ultimate payoff. I am so proud right now.”
And rightly so. For 10 years, White slowly built a program that improved every season until one of his teams finally won that elusive first trophy.
White had been close before. During his tenure, Tanner has eight 10-win seasons and won 49 out of its last 53 games. At the 2012 celebration ceremony, White was quick to give credit to his outstanding senior class.
“A lot of these guys have been starting since the ninth grade,” White said. “These seniors did a great job and I wish I could have all of them back next year.”
White will lose eight seniors, five that made the News Courier’s All-County Team including three all-state selections. But the cupboard isn’t bare. White will continue to reload as he’s done the past 10 off seasons as Tanner’s coach.
Winning state championships is in White’s DNA. His father, Louis White, won four state championships at Courtland. Laron was part of three of those state championship teams — winning 1A titles in 1988, ’89 and ’90. The older White said he sees some of the same characteristics on this Tanner team as his Courtland teams of the 1980s and 90s.
“One thing I know is they played physical,” Louis said. “I always told him (Laron) that a physical football team wins games. And I look at these kids compared to years past, and they are a more physical team.
“Another thing I’ve noticed is how disciplined his teams are. The best way to do it is to just demand that they do it and there’s no other way out.”
Louis and Laron White become the latest father-son pair to win state championships. In fact, only three father-son duos have ever accomplished the feat in Alabama high school athletics. The latest being fellow Limestone County coach Allen Creasy who won a state championship with Athens in 2006 after his father won a title with Colbert County in 1979.
A member of the Lawrence County Hall of Fame, Louis White finished with a 181-83 record at Courtland from 1975-1998, winning four state championships. In his 10th season with Tanner, Laron has a 105-21 record, well on his way to catching his Hall of Fame father.
If White’s ambitious goal for next season is any indication, he will catch his father sooner rather than later.