Fort Hill's Blake White wins Player of the Year
Jan 17, 2022
CUMBERLAND — What hasn’t been said about Blake White by now?
The numbers? White put up area-best marks in rushing yards, touchdowns and yards-per carry as the bell cow on an undefeated Fort Hill squad. Defensively, the senior tallied more than 100 tackles at linebacker.
The intangibles? White showcased his determination playing through not one, but several shoulder dislocations in the state semifinals and championship games to help the Sentinels capture an eighth crown.
White checks all the boxes, and the area coaches agreed, voting the senior the Player of the Year.
“He had a phenomenal senior year,” Fort Hill head coach Zack Alkire said. “We were robbed of what he was going to be able to do last year. It’s well-deserved, he was a standout player both offensively and defensively.
“He played on an undefeated state champion. On both sides of the ball, he was the leader. When we did our best, it was when he was out there.”
White continues the tradition of Fort Hill players winning the top award, making it eight consecutive seasons, and 10 of 11, a Sentinel has either won or shared Player of the Year. White won the 2021 title over Mason Miller (East Hardy), receiving seven of the possible nine votes from area coaches.
Keyser star quarterback Gavin Root was the top player a season ago, but the award was called the Potomac Highlands Player of the Year because Maryland played an incomplete spring season.
White is the 21st Fort Hill player to receive the nod as the area’s best player. He’s the fourth sentinel to win a Times-News postseason award this cycle, joining Alkire (Coach of the Year), Carter Hess (Lineman of the Year) and TJ Lee (Defensive Player of the Year).
Mountain Ridge quarterback Bryce Snyder was awarded Offensive Player of the Year on Saturday.
There has been a long tradition of excellence of Fort Hill fullbacks, and White is one of the best. The senior toted it 132 times for 1,353 yards, a 10.3 yards-per carry average, and 21 touchdowns. He caught four passes for 97 yards and a score and totalled 111 yards in the return game.
“Offensively, he forced people to try to stop that inside game,” Alkire said. “He could stop on a dime, was shifty and accelerated into the hole.
“There was a question on the bus to the state championship, is Blake the best fullback we’ve had in recent memory? And I couldn’t name many in my lifetime. (Assistant coach and two-time All-Area running back) Scott Rice is like, ‘Hey what about me?’ And I’m like, ‘Uh... Blake’s better.’”
White’s impact wasn’t just on one side of the ball. He tallied 103 total tackles (56 solo) with 17 tackles for loss, an interception and a sack as a linebacker.
More importantly, White was the quarterback of a defense that gave a different look every week under defensive coordinator Chad Knippenberg. No matter what his coaches threw at him, White embraced it, and that mentality resonated with his Sentinel teammates.
“He was so flexible,” Alkire said. “We were coming out with a different game-plan every week from Old Mill on, and him being flexible, he was one of those guys that could move around. If he was more selfish, that doesn’t happen.
“At Hollidaysburg he played defensive line. He was a linebacker, safety, nickel corner. He did it all.”
White’s versatility was on full display against Mountain Ridge in the 1A state championship game in Annapolis — a game that encapsulated everything that made the senior special.
A week prior, White’s shoulder popped out of the socket twice in a 43-14 win over Edmonson-Westside at Greenway Avenue Stadium. He sustained the injury laying a heavy hit on Edmondson’s big 220-pound running back, popped it back in himself, but was then forced to go to the hospital when it dislocated again.
During the week leading up to the championship, White couldn’t fully participate in practice, playing in a non-contact capacity. Few thought the senior wouldn’t try to play at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, but would he be effective?
White answered every question and then some, rushing for 133 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries (an 11.1 yards-a-touch average), and made six tackles. The Sentinels won 51-31.
Here’s the catch: White’s shoulder dislocated twice more, and nobody, not the thousands of Allegany County residents that made the trip or the Fort Hill coaching staff, was the wiser.
With the season on the line, nothing could get White off the field in his final high school football game.
“There were times during the year that he said, ‘Hey, I need to take a breather here.’” Alkire said. “You knew he wasn’t trying to tap out, he’d get a break and come over and be ready to go again.
“If everyone had that mindset to give 100% as long as they can, take a break. We’d be a lot better. It rubbed off on his teammates, and kids didn’t want to come out of the game. At one point a kid had a fractured ankle, and he was still trying to play. Blake set that tone.”
Despite everything that White has accomplished, college coaches haven’t caught on yet.
If you ask Alkire, or any team that Fort Hill ran over this season, they’ll tell you. Some college coach is going to be thrilled they gave a chance to Blake White.
“We’re trying to get him to that next level,” Alkire said. “We’re trying to re-pay him now, for everything he’s given to this program, and try to get him to the next level.”