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Athens Highschool football head coach Nathan White watches as his offensive team walks off the field after a fumble on the rain soaked field at Joe Borrow Stadium in the Plains, Ohio. Athens lost to Nelsonville-York 41-6 on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021.

Athens Football: Nathan White has time to reflect, prepare heading into the offseason

After Athens’ final game of the regular season against Nelsonville-York, coach Nathan White took time to relax with his family, enjoy the weekend and take his mind off the season for the first time in months. Although it was a nice break, it wasn’t easy for White to keep his mind off what is to come for him and the Bulldogs. 

“It’s hard to stay away,” White said. “This first week after the season is always really strange, not having practice, and no matter what kind of year you had, you miss it a little bit.”

White still needs time to process what the season entailed. His mind races when reflecting on the season, but he doesn’t want his emotions to overwhelm his evaluation. The offseason will allow him time to rewatch the tape game-by-game and begin to analyze what can be improved. 

What White does know, however, is that the group he has heading into next season isn’t unfamiliar. The team meeting following the season finale allowed him to see that. 

“Last year there were about 16, 18 kids staring at me,” White said. “This past Saturday, there were 33 or 34, it was very different to look and have a lot of your team back.”

The swell in numbers was a stark contrast from previous years. With fewer players to show the ropes and more experience on the team, White believes things will be smoother going forward. 

Landon Wheatley is a much-needed player that will return for the Bulldogs next season. He became a leader for a young roster, and White noted Wheatley’s grit and leadership. White believes the quarterback embraced the offense he was put in charge of. Wheatley found ways to move forward while being a player the team looked up to. White was impressed by the quarterback’s ability to lead in just his first year as a full-time starter.

“This was really his first year to be a true quarterback,” White said. “He went from a great athlete catching snaps to a guy who’s a pretty dang good quarterback, so it’s exciting to have him back.”

White admired how well the Bulldogs were able to approach any challenges that came their way both on and off the field. COVID-19 often led to certain players being kept out of games, but the Bulldogs adapted to fill the gaps. The Bulldogs were hampered by turnovers in vital moments throughout the season, but they kept their chins up. 

“I was really happy with how our kids handled adversity,” White said. “I think that is the big picture thing that I am going to take away.”

The Bulldogs were a young team this season, but that won’t be an excuse in the future. White wants the Bulldogs to grow and prove themselves. They need to be more physical in games. 

As for now, White is looking forward to what the future brings and where the Bulldogs can go from here. 

“Obviously winning is fun (and) the grind of game planning is really fun for me,” White said. “I enjoy that but being out at practice every day with the kids, just being around them, teaching them, coaching them is the thing that keeps you coming back excited every year.”


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