On Nov. 15, 2021, the White County High School Warrior football team came together with family and friends to celebrate the 2021 football season. The event took place at the Bear Cove Baptist Church. Special recognition was given to the senior class for their accomplishments. Malaki Dowell was also recognized for his record setting 2,037-yard performance this year (in only nine games). The linemen that blocked for Malaki and the other running backs were also presented with T-shirts that recognized their hard work and dedication.
The story of a season cannot be fully told with records and statistics. A 5-5 record doesn’t sound like a great year, but, much like the Tennessee Volunteers this year, the excitement comes from watching the passion and energy that the Warriors played with. It comes from the progress that is evident to anyone who is paying attention to what is happening around the program on and off the field. The Warriors averaged over 33 points a game this season, which is the highest average for White County since the 1980s. They went toe to toe with teams from one of the best regions in the state. The majority of the region games played by the Warriors this year were against teams that were ranked in the top 10 of the state when they played. They beat their rival Cookeville in convincing fashion, 41-13. Two of the Warriors’ losses in region play came in games where the boys from Sparta dominated the game in every area but the scoreboard. Fluke plays and questionable calls kept the Warriors from at least a 7-3 record and a play-off berth. Malaki Dowell had a phenomenal junior season and is currently a semifinalist for the “Mr. Football Award” for the state.
About halfway through the season, I was asked to help the coaching staff on the sidelines during the games. My job was to hold an iPad for Coach Mark Frasier and follow him around showing him whatever plays he needed to see so that he could make in-game adjustments. Aside from getting quite the workout in trying to keep up with coach on the sidelines, I received something very special. I got to see things from the inside. I was welcomed in the coaches’ room, the team huddle, and handshake lines. This gave me a unique view of what is really going on with the White County football program. A look at the white board in the fieldhouse revealed that a foundation for success had been laid in the weight room. Some of the numbers on the board were mind boggling and were on par with the best teams in the state. As I sat in the coaches’ room at halftime of games, I watched as players would come in and ask questions and suggest adjustments, revealing an understanding of scheme and technique not often seen on the high school level. I saw motivation. I witnessed encouragement, instruction, and correction. However, the number-one thing I witnessed on the side lines, locker rooms, and team huddles was love. The coaching staff for the high school genuinely loves and cares for the young men who play for them. Some of the coaches have led these young men since they were little boys playing youth league football. Tears filled the eyes of many coaches as they experienced the highs of a huge win or the heartache of a players last night on the field. My favorite moment on the sidelines this year came during the big win against Cookeville. Coach Frasier was frustrated with a player and yelled out onto the field, “ ______ you are always in the wrong place, but I love you anyways. It was a privilege to be there on the sidelines with this special team. I look forward to being there again next year. I want to invite our entire community to make their way to the stands next year to support these awesome young men. 2022 has a chance to be the greatest season in White County Warrior football history.
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