Rocky White’s brief tenure as a Butler football assistant coach ended late last week when he was named head coach at South Mecklenburg High.
On April 20, White was hired to take over for former South Meck coach James Martin, who’s leaving to become an assistant coach at Rock Hill’s Northwestern High.
The 51-year-old White, who spent one season at Butler, now will compete against the Bulldogs, as his new team also is a member of the Southwestern 4A conference.
The matchup against the nationally recognized Bulldogs not withstanding, life should get a bit easier for White, who still makes the 90-minute commute from Lexington, S.C., where he was an assistant coach before coming to Butler last fall.
“I had a great time at Butler, and I learned a lot working with (Bulldogs head) coach (Brian) Hales and all those great guys on that staff,” White said. “I’m going to miss it there, but South Meck is a great opportunity.
“I’ve always thought South Mecklenburg should be one of the premiere coaching positions in the state. They’ve got great facilities, a great booster club, a great history, and the principal and the administration is outstanding. I’m tremendously excited to have the opportunity.”
Before spending the 2011 season with Butler, White had a three-year stay as defensive coordinator at Lexington (S.C.) High and five seasons as head coach at West Meck, where he compiled a 24-35 record.
“But I was 8-0 as Butler’s JV coach last year,” said White, a former University of North Carolina player and the son of famed Olympic High coach Joe White.
“Then again,” he joked, “you could’ve propped up a broom and gone 8-0 there.”
Throughout his career, however, White’s become known as highly respected coach who gets the most from players. For example, in his first season at West Meck, his squad went 1-10. The next season, the Hawks were 8-3. In all, he had two eight-win seasons at West Meck. The school has won eight games only five other times in its history.
White said he has 50 players returning from South Meck’s varsity and JV teams, and one of them is rising senior lineman Brandon Floyd, who already has a scholarship offer from East Carolina and also is receiving interest from North Carolina, Duke, Tennessee, Wake Forest, the Charlotte 49ers and Appalachian State.
“We’re putting our trust in Coach White,” Floyd said. “He seems like a good guy who’s going to do something good with the program. I think we’re going to improve. I’m looking forward to it.”
The Sabres were 4-8 last season under Martin, who was known for employing a run-focused Wing-T offense, which drew criticism from some South Meck fans who wanted to see the Sabres pass the ball more frequently. But White said the Wing-T isn’t a bad attack.
“I tell people, ‘What kind of offense do you think we ran at Butler?’ And they say, ‘You ran a Spread,’” White said. “But Butler runs the Wing-T. So it doesn’t make any difference what you line up in; it’s what you do when you get there.”
That said, expect to see the Sabres go to the air more often when the Bulldogs travel to South Meck during the 2012 season.
“I want us to be diverse,” White said. “I don’t want us to be one-dimensional. I want to give our guys some artillery to be involved in the battle, so we’re going to throw it around a little more probably than we’ve done in the past. I’d like to be 50-50, but I don’t think we can do that right off the bat. But we’ll be fun to watch.
“I look at it this way: If I was a young person, I wouldn’t want to run the ball three yards and a cloud of dust a hundred times a game. I like to have a little fun out there.”