Reprinted with permission from Daily Mail
Clay County senior Zach White is easy to find in a crowd. On the football field, however, others hope White doesn’t find them.
At 6-foot-2, 305 pounds, White is a dominant offensive lineman for the Panthers, and with a mix of size, strength, and even quickness, according to Coach Steve Ware, he will be a handful for Clay County opponents this season.
When the Panthers open their season on Aug. 30th at home against Roane County, White will be looking to pave the way.
“It’s hard to beat that combination,” Ware said. “He’s got great size and strength, but he’s also got quick feet. He’s played basketball before and moves very well. He’s big, but he’s also quick.”
White, a tackle who can bench press more 300 pounds and squats more than 500, was a second team All-State selection last year in Class AA, and was named a Daily Mail pre-season first-team all-stater, which includes all three classes.
As big and strong as White is, he’s just as humble about individual honors.
“If they choose me for those honors, it doesn’t really matter,” White said. “I just want what is best for my team and help any way I can. I know I can’t accomplish that without my team and it’s the other way around for them as well. It takes a team.”
White does have a lot of pride in being as dominant a lineman that he is, but it’s all about the fraternity of the position.
“It gives me pride but I wouldn’t be this good without good lineman in the past pushing me to be this good,” White said. “I’m going to be like this to the younger lineman as well so they can be even better than me.”
White played basketball from second through seventh grades, but as his size started to increase he switched to football in middle school. That’s when he began concentrating on weight lifting and working on his craft.
“We are very excited with Zach,” Ware said. “He’s a leader. I’m one of those coaches that think you start on the line. It’s very important. Having a good line gives everybody confidence. The running backs know they can move people out of the way and the quarterbacks know they will have good protection.”
White has been instrumental in turning around a Clay program that has seen its fair share of struggles over the years.
Last year the Panthers made the Class AA playoffs as the No. 16 seed before being disposed of by No. 1 seed and eventual state champion Wayne, 63-24, in the first round.
“It was a big confidence boost for us and really helped the program a lot,” Ware said. “It had been eight years since we had been there in the playoffs. It was the first season we hadn’t had a losing season in years.”
White is hoping to build on the momentum from last year’s team success and is focused on a repeat playoff berth for the Panthers.
“It was really great because we know how hard we worked for it,” White said.
“It gave us a lot of motivation and confidence to make it happen again. We want to make it back to the playoffs and go a little further.”
It’s all about a part of a much bigger plan for White.
“I want to plan on leaving Clay County better than what it was when I got here,” White said. “Individually, anything I can do to help my team accomplish that is my goal.”
With all the individual and team success White and the Panthers have enjoyed lately, the standout lineman is starting to build interest in trying to play at the next level.
“Yes, most definitely if someone offers me,” said White, when asked on his desire to play college football. “I went to a Marshall camp and another combine. It was a good experience, especially because they had a lot of good coaches that helped me learn some new things.”
“At first I wasn’t sure whether he (White) wanted to or not,” Ware said. “But lately with the success we had last year and with the experience back this season, he has put a lot more effort and interest in playing somewhere at the next level.”