AUBURN — During his 10-year tenure as Tanner's head football coach, Laron White slowly but surely built the program in his own image and to fit his personality.
That image is one that features tough love, an unrelenting work ethic and not a lot of undue praise. Those principles trace back to when he was playing for his father Louis at Courtland High.
Late Friday afternoon as the Tanner fans danced in the aisles at Jordan-Hare Stadium in the waning seconds of the Class 2A championship game, White turned around and invited his impending traditional winner's dousing with the contents of a water cooler.
It was a redeeming moment for White and Tanner as they celebrated a 28-14 victory over Washington County. Just one year ago at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, the role was reversed, and it was White and Tanner that watched Elba celebrate the 2A championship.
Later, cradling the school's first football championship trophy, White spoke about the historic season that resulted in Tanner win 14 games in dominating fashion.
White was a part of three state titles at Courtland, and after 10 years of trying at Tanner he finally celebrated a championship as a head coach.
"It means so much because for 10 years we've tried to run the program the right way," White said. "These guys work so hard in the summer months, in the fall, in the spring. There's a lot of work involved to win this trophy.
"They grind it out. They'll run through a wall for me. That's all you can ask for from high school kids. You push them and push them and push them."
White admits he doesn't go easy on his team. He's admittedly demanding.
"I'm hard on them," he said. "I cut them no slack. I don't tell them good job much, only on game days. Other than that, I don't tell them good job much, and that's tough on kids. But they respond. That's how we do it, and I'm so proud they can show this prize off."
White's father and mentor watched the championship game from the stands. His brother, Kelvis, was on the sideline.
"There's not a lot of difference in winning one and watching him win one," Louis White said. "I'm real proud of him. To me, I guess he worked as hard or harder than we did. It was tough to watch; I've been sitting here praying. It's been like that all year."
Louis White watches and he sees his influence — whether intended or unintended — in his son.
"When he came up in my program, he kept some of the things I did," Louis White said. "It's been a long time for him."
Kelvis White, the head coach at Dothan High, watched the celebration unfold on the sideline with his arms crossed and a slight smile on his face. He enjoyed watching his older brother win a state title.
"It was time for him to get it," Kelvis White said. "Last year was a little disappointing for them, but they showed up today and won a state championship. I'm proud of him."
Kelvis White said football is a frequent conversation among he, Laron and Louis.
"We talk football about two or three times a week," he said. "He's chased this thing for a long time. They deserved it."
After the postgame celebration finished, Laron White was still clutching the trophy.
"I'm going to take it home with me," he said, grinning.
Nobody was going to tell him he couldn't. Laron White earned the right to enjoy Tanner's latest hardware for a while.
|High School Sports||@DecaturPreps|