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White named head football coach at Sparkman

58af5240c1301.imageLongtime Tanner football coach Laron White has accepted a job at Sparkman High in Madison County. The Class 7A Senators announced this afternoon that White is the football program’s new head coach.

And now one of the state’s premier small-school football powers is searching for a new coach.

“I’m excited,” White said. “This is a big challenge. They play in the largest classification against some tough competition. But the kids here are hungry, and I’m ready to get started.”

White transformed Tanner into a football power, posting a 148-30 record in 14 seasons while winning Class 2A state titles in 2012 and 2013. His Rattlers also finished as the Class 2A state runner-up once.

This past season, White led Tanner to a 9-4 record and an appearance in the Class 2A quarterfinals.

White was an all-state offensive lineman at Courtland before playing for Gene Stallings at Alabama in the early 1990s.

White’s father, Louis White, was a hall-of-fame high school coach at Courtland. He led the Chiefs to four state titles. White’s brother, Kelvis, took over last season at Mae Jemison’s football coach.

The move means White is returning to the state’s largest classification. Before taking over as Tanner’s head coach, he was an assistant at Decatur.

According to the enrollment numbers released to the Alabama High School Athletic Association last year, Sparkman has the state’s 10th largest enrollment of students in grades 10-12 at 1,834.2.

But even though Sparkman has been among the state’s largest schools for a while, the Senators have a dismal football history. Sparkman has not qualified for the postseason in a decade — which was the last time the team posted a winning record.

Since 1985, Sparkman has posted a record above .500 only twice, making six playoff appearances during that span.

Sparkman finished last season with a 4-6 record.

Sparkman athletic director Jason Watts believes White can turn the program around.

“We had more than 100 applicants, but we feel like we’ve got the perfect guy for the job,” Watts said.

Rumors that White was leaving Tanner for Sparkman surfaced last week, but he denied the reports. But on Tuesday, White told his players at Tanner that he was leaving.

“That was the hardest thing I’ve had to do,” White said. “Tanner was good to me and my family. It’s been my home for a long time. I’m going to miss it, but I felt like I needed to take on this new challenge.”

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