By Keeli Parkey
The Glenn White era of the Unicoi County High School football program has come to an end.
In a press release emailed to The Erwin Record on Monday, Sept. 12, Director of Schools John English announced that Glenn White has resigned as the head coach of the Blue Devil program.
“I would like to thank coach White for his commitment and dedication to the football program,” English said in the press release. “He is an absolute true Blue Devil.
“We very much appreciate all of his efforts and commitment to the program. I don’t know anyone who has more passion and care for Blue Devil football than Glenn White.”
The Blue Devil football team’s loss at Happy Valley on Friday, Sept. 9, led to White’s resignation.
“The loss Friday night, it wasn’t just a loss,” White told The Erwin Record. “In my 35 years of coaching, I have never been involved in anything like that. It was unimaginable. That is my fault. I was the head football coach and I take full responsibility for that. It wasn’t a 16-year-old boy’s fault, it was a 54-year-old man’s fault.
“I am man enough to admit that I have to take full responsibility for that terrible loss.”
White said that even though he personally did not want to resign, in the end he felt it was best for the program.
“It’s sickening to every instinct of my body to resign,” he said. “My wife and four daughters wanted me to continue the fight and I wanted to. But, after discussions with the appropriate parties it was evident that I did not have the credibility – not so much from the school system, but from other aspects – to continue as the head football coach. I have loved this program for a long time. …
“You have to put the players first,” White continued. “You have to put the program first. If it was about Glenn White, I would still be coaching. But, it’s about the young men who I loved coaching and it’s about the program I have loved since I was 12 years old. Once I put it in that perspective, I knew it was the appropriate decision.”
White took over the Blue Devil program in September 2014, following the mid-season resignation of previous head coach Robert McElwee following an 0-4 start. White posted a record of 5-6 and playoff appearance during the 2015 season.
The Blue Devils defeated South Greene in Erwin, 35-0, to open the 2016 season, then struggled against Sullivan East and fell, 41-6, on the road the following week. White’s team bounced back from that loss with a 35-13 win over West Greene before last week’s loss at Happy Valley.
English also announced that assistant coach Drew Rice will assume head coaching responsibilities as of Monday. Rice has been an assistant coach with the program for five years.
“I love coach Rice and I love all my coaches, but he and I have developed a special bond over the last five years,” White said. “The people are going to have to give him a chance and leave him alone. He was a collegiate football player. He knows the game and is very mature for his age. I want him to succeed – and, he is going to. I am looking forward to seeing his team play and play with enthusiasm.”
White said he will continue to support the team even though things did not end the way he would have wished.
“I will come to the games and watch the boys play,” he added. “My youngest daughter is the captain of the cheerleading squad and I will be there to support her.
“This is a terrible disappointment, but I have always been a fighter,” he continued. “… But, you have to move on. I am always a Blue Devil. In the end all I can say is, ‘go Big Blue’.”
A press conference to discuss Rice’s appointment as head coach has been scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 10 a.m. at the Unicoi County Board of Education in downtown Erwin.
“All questions concerning coach Rice’s appointment and the future of the program will be addressed at that time,” English also said.
The Blue Devils are scheduled to travel to Elizabethton to face the Cyclones on Friday, Sept. 16, at 7:30 p.m.