Blake White overcomes injury to help Fort Hill to 8th title

Dec 7, 2021
Alex Rychwalski

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — You’d have never known Fort Hill fullback and linebacker Blake White was dealing with an injury during the state title game in Annapolis Saturday.

You’d never know that he went to the hospital during the state semis after his shoulder popped out of place twice, or that he practiced without contact all week leading up to the championship game. Or that it popped out twice more against Mountain Ridge at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium.

With serious doubt White would even play, the senior didn’t just take the field, he starred. White rushed for 134 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries, and he shined in a hybrid linebacker/defensive back role on defense.

White wasn’t the only reason Fort Hill beat the Miners, 51-31, for their eighth state title, but he played an integral part. The Sentinels’ most important player wouldn’t let anything hold him back, not even his own body.

“He was a very critical part of what we were doing defensively,” Fort Hill head coach Zack Alkire said. “We had other guys who could do stuff offensively if he wasn’t able to go, but defensively we were pretty worried if he wasn’t 100%.

“I didn’t find out until after the game that his shoulder had gone out again twice. He didn’t want to tell him that during the game because he was worried I’d sit him.

“He’s a super tough kid, super gritty kid. He’s willing to do anything for his teammates.”

At no point was it evident to the casual observer that White was banged up. Alkire moved the senior to the outside on defense, both to protect him physically and because Mountain Ridge had jumped out to a 19-10 lead early in the second quarter behind its passing attack.

The change in tactics clearly worked, and Fort Hill rattled off the next 35 points to put the feisty Miners to bed.

“All week at practice we had tried different combinations of kids in the event he wasn’t able to play,” Alkire said. “He was mainly outside from the second quarter on playing coverage. They were really taking advantage of us with the motioning, confusing our kids. So we simplified our game plan.

“While we like Blake at linebacker, we have a couple other guys that could come in and do a good job at the position, and we needed him in coverage. It was more of a coverage game.”

The questions all week were A: is White going to be able to play? And B: how effective would he be?

There were few who thought he wouldn’t give it his best shot. Yet, few probably thought he would look every bit like his usual self.

White was his usual self and then some.

“Adrenaline is a great thing,” White said after the game Saturday. “You get going in a game you don’t feel anything. Coach let me take it easy all week, I didn’t do any contact, but I still participated in practice. Just had to keep the shoulder brace on and keep doing my exercises to make sure I was good to go.”

“There was no concern that he wasn’t going to try,” Alkire said. “I texted him the day after the Edmondson game, and he said he was fine. His dad echoed the same things. I knew he was going to try to go, the question was if he’d have been able to go all four quarters.”

He almost didn’t make it the whole game. Though the brace held up, White’s shoulder popped out twice. The first time, the senior popped it back in himself, and the second time it went back on its own.

At no point was anyone the wiser.

“Even going back and watching the film, I couldn’t tell you where it happened,” Alkire said. “A lot of times he’d make plays, do a little shimmy, a dance or a celebration. I never saw any pain on his face.”

For the season, White finished with 1,354 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns on 134 carries — a 10.1 yards per carry average. On defense, the linebacker ended his final campaign at 96 tackles (54 solo), 16 tackles for loss, an interception and a fumble recovery.

White wasn’t just good on the stat sheet. Alkire said the senior was every bit the leader as he was a football player.

Nothing during White’s high school football career showcased his leadership more than battling through a shoulder injury to help his teammates capture Fort Hill’s eighth state title.

“He’s probably our most important player,” the second-year coach said. “He’s a guy that I leaned on all the time as a leader. The best thing about him is that he’s not perfect. He makes mistakes, and when you correct him he nods his head and corrects it. He never makes the same mistake twice.

“That’s better than a kid who’s perfect all the time. It helps show his teammates that’s how’s he’s able to be coached. And not always football stuff, in life stuff where he made mistakes. This is what you did wrong, this is how you improve it.”




Fort Hill running back Blake White scores a touchdown during the second half of the Maryland Class 1A championship game Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps. Stadium in Annapolis. The Sentinels defeated Mountain Ridge 51-31 and White, who scored three times, was playing with a shoulder injury.
PHOTO: Ken Nolan/Times-News