By Ray Hamill — Playing a physical brand of football is something the Del Norte Warriors have always taken pride in.
And continuing that shouldn’t be a problem for new head coach Nick White.
“Del Norte always plays hard,” he said. “That’s their tradition. Play physical and hit hard.”
It’s a tradition White intends to carry on after taking over from long-time head coach Lewis Nova, who stepped down after last season.
And it’s something he was known for himself during his time playing college ball on the North Coast.
The Fort Bragg grad played two years each at College of the Redwoods and Humboldt State, enjoying plenty of success along the way.
At HSU, he was named the Jacks Defensive MVP in his senior season after leading the conference in tackles.
Prior to that, he was a part of the Corsairs’ back-to-back championship teams in the early 2000s, the last time the school won a conference title in football.
A new challenge
White, who also helped Fort Bragg to a North Coast Section championship, has been an assistant with the Del Norte program for much of the past decade, after being first hired by former head coach Ray Rook.
And he says he is looking forward to the new challenge.
“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “It’s definitely in my blood. I love coaching, and I love teaching kids.”
And for the new head coach, it all starts in the trenches, which shouldn’t be a problem in 2019.
“We’ve got a couple of skill kids back and they will definitely step into bigger roles this year,” he said. “And pretty much every kid on the offensive and defensive lines are back, so that will be our strength for sure.”
Also back is quarterback OJ Calleja, who grew into the role last season after starting the season as back-up.
“He’s a big part of what we’re doing,” said the new head coach, who admits he didn’t know what to expect out of Calleja at the start of last season. “He stepped up and he played more of a role each week.”
White says his time at both CR and HSU helped prepare him for his new position, after first getting his start as an assistant coach with the Lumberjacks after graduating college in 2005.
“I loved the school and I loved playing there,” he said of HSU. “It was definitely a different atmosphere in the Redwood Bowl. It was the best place you could play.”
White also credits the team chemistry at both Fort Bragg and CR as being crucial to winning, and that’s something he intends to stress at Del Norte.
“The camaraderie at CR was real good,” he said. “All these kids, they really meshed well together, and that’s the reason we won the conference championships, our team chemistry.
“And that’s why we were really successful at Fort Bragg. Everybody loved playing with each other, and cared about each other so much.”
White joins his older brother and Eureka head coach Jason White in the Big 4, adding intrigue to this year’s title race.
And the long-time Eureka head coach believes Del Norte made the right decision.
“What makes him a good coach is he’s very good at paying attention to details, as most good coaches are,” Jason White said. “And he knows the game on both sides.”
In addition, Nick’s twin brother Chris, who played with him at Fort Bragg, CR and HSU, will join him again on the sidelines at Del Norte, taking over as offensive coordinator.
The twins coached together for one season five years ago as assistants with the Warriors.
“It’s going to be exciting,” Nick said of facing Eureka in the Fall, in a season finale that could very well be the league decider. “I think both (Jason and I) are looking forward to it, and looking forward to the challenge of game week. We’re both super competitive.”
Nick added his best memory from his playing days was winning a championship at Fort Bragg, something he hopes to replicate for the Warriors at Del Norte.
“It was an awesome experience,” he said. “For sure, it was the best experience for me as a player, winning that championship.”