The Del Norte football team got back on the practice field over the last three weeks with 10 practices culminating in a flag football game on Friday. It was the first chance for the Warriors new head coach Nick White to work with the players returning to the team next fall.
“It is mostly just getting kids out here and getting them familiar with what we are doing,” White said. “It is like a review period, and also getting them ready for the summer and for fall camp — just getting them back into football is the big part of it.”
Although 2019 will be White’s first season as head coach of the Del Norte varsity, he served as an assistant coach last year when the Warriors finished in second place in a stacked Humboldt-Del Norte Big 4 league, and advanced to the North Coast Section Division IV semifinals before falling to eventual section champion, Fortuna. So White is already familiar with the returning varsity players — and there should be a lot of them next fall.
“We have a lot of returning players, and a lot of seniors,” White said. “So we can pick up right where we left off pretty much, as far as the varsity goes. We have been able to move pretty quickly through what we want to put in. Then as far as the JV kids go, the kids who have been out here have been picking things up well. So we have a good group of sophomores coming back, and then the freshmen will come in, help out, and hopefully learn quickly.”
Spring training was also a chance for the coaching staff to gel together. Although most of the assistant coaches are returning from last season, there have been a few changes. White said he has been pleased with the staff’s effort so far.
“We have a great group of coaches. I brought back most of the guys from last year. A couple of them couldn’t do it again because their jobs changed from last year, and I picked up the best guys that I could to replace them,” White said. “We brought a couple youth coaches up, so they will be familiar with the freshmen too. I can’t say enough about the staff. They are doing a great job out here coaching the kids, working with them, and having fun. It’s the best coaching staff I could get.”
With the notable exception of White moving up to the head coaching position, perhaps the biggest change on the staff for next season has been White’s twin brother Chris White moving into the offensive coordinator role.
“We are changing offenses, so installing the offense was a big part of the spring,” Nick White said. “The kids picked it up and responded well. We got done what we wanted to as far as installing our plays, and defensively we were able to put in what we wanted to.”
Although the offense is a little different than in previous seasons, White said the veteran group was able to grasp the new concepts quickly. That should allow for the team to hit the ground running once fall camp starts up in less than three months.
“We have a lot of returning kids, so we can go fast,” White said. “We installed our offense, then we can get into more detail when the fall comes and we actually put on pads and hit. It is easier for them to learn the plays out here. Then when we put pads on it is actually hitting along with running the plays. They don’t have to think so much — they can just go out and play. That is the big thing coming out of spring ball.”
Meanwhile the Warriors defense will be lead by Darren LaFazio, who has been the defensive coordinator for Del Norte for about a decade. Therefore many of the players have already spent multiple years playing in LaFazio’s system.
“We worked on both our run and pass defense this spring and the kids like what we are doing,” White said. “We have that down for sure, because we didn’t change what we are doing. So they understand it going into spring ball, and next year.”
White said the team has had about 30 players on any given day, though they weren’t always the same players due to various conflicts with other activities. Once the season starts up there will almost certainly be significantly more kids on the gridiron.
“There are no freshmen yet, and there are a couple kids that are still playing baseball and that type of stuff,” White said. “This isn’t mandatory, so they come out here if they aren’t involved in anything else. Once the fall comes there will be more kids for sure.”
The football team will have a couple weeks away from the field for finals and graduation. But once the summer starts for Del Norte High School, the Warriors plan to go right back to work.
“We have summer workouts where we lift weights and we will also come out on the field,” White said. “We will be doing that three days a week on Mondays, Tuesday’s and Thursdays. That will go up until fall camp, and we have a couple seven-on-seven scrimmages scheduled too. Then when fall camp starts we will be going 100 percent from there.”
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .