ST. PAULS — Before Ernest King and the new football coaching staff took over at St. Pauls High School during the offseason, Elijah White thought he would play mainly on the offensive line this fall.
White was all-county and all-conference performer in 2015 as an offensive lineman, who saw a few snaps on defense, but King’s arrival signaled a switch to the other side of the ball.
“He wanted me more on defense,” White said of King’s plan for his position this fall. “I thought I was going to come in here and play offense like last year, but he wanted me to be on defense so I could help him and his son (Tre King) and Christian Dunn.
“I just wanted to do whatever is best for the team.”
The move from playing mostly on the offensive side to a defensive lineman has been aided with having a defensive-minded coach like King and some prior experience as well.
“(Having King) has been a big key to the process, focusing on defenses more heavily so we can stop our opponents,” White said. “The transition has been kind of easy because last year I played a mixture of both and in practice I’m getting a lot of reps.”
Having the mindset of an offensive lineman is something White feels helps him on the opposite side of the ball.
“It helps a lot,” he said of having experience on the offensive line. “Being on the defensive line helps out a lot too.”
With Tre King and Dunn alongside him, White feels the senior-laden defensive line has a chance to make its mark in the Three Rivers Conference this season.
“I think we can be one of the best defensive lines in the county,” White said, “as far as stopping the run and we’re pretty quick off the ball on pass rushes.”
With an inexperienced secondary, White knows that there is a little more responsibility for the defensive line, but their mission is clear to him and his other two teammates lining up beside him.
“We’re going to have to help them out more and we know that,” White said. “We say it everyday in practice and we know it’s our job to get pressure back there on the quarterback to make their job easier.”
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.