Being an honor-roll student, Hunter White had no problem studying up on his football during the offseason last year. It was a homework assignment he relished.
The Concord High coaching staff changed defensive schemes between the 2010 and 2011 seasons, a move that would affect White's approach to playing defensive line. By the time this season began, he and his fellow linemen were ready.
The Spiders bowed out of the playoffs with a third-round loss at West Rowan on Nov. 18. It concluded White's football career at Concord, including a senior season in which he could have declared residency in the opponents' backfields.
Last year, Concord employed a 3-4 alignment. For 2011, head coach Glen Padgett switched to a 4-2 with five defensive backs.
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As a junior, White and senior Darrin Posey were assigned to the end positions in the 3-4 alignment with Bradley Phillips at nose guard. The featured tacklers were the linebackers, including Jalen Brown, Bradley Phillips and Ben Kelnhofer.
"We played three down linemen," said White. "There was a lot more weight on us, because there were only three of us. We had three rushing the passer. If you slipped up a little bit with only three men, there was more pressure, and it might result in a touchdown."
Last year, White was especially pleased with Concord's defensive effort against Hickory Ridge and China Grove Carson, two run-oriented teams he thought the Spiders kept in check. White had a season-high nine tackles in the second-round playoff victory over Carson.
In the spring, White and his fellow defensive linemen - Kendall Bost, DeOndre Gipps and Dre Gillard - learned of the change in defensive schemes. White would be playing a pure defensive tackle position, lining up against an offensive guard instead of a tackle.
"The main thing was, we started learning it after school in March," said White. "That helped a lot. We had the defensive playbook. We learned where we had to be before we got on the field.
"When we got on the field, it just worked and came together. Everyone fit in the right spots. I thought it would be lot rougher than it was."
Citing solid performances in two of Concord's first three games - against West Charlotte and Monroe - Padgett said White had a good start and was steady the entire season.
There's a reason he's a team captain. Padgett said White's work ethic and eagerness to help the team are exemplary.
Aggressive and smart
At 5-9 and 235 pounds, White is built low to the ground. He's willing to be physical against his opponents and has better-than-average speed for a defensive lineman.
Those attributes allow him to get around blockers and penetrate protection. This season, White was second for the Spiders in tackles for losses with 10, double what he had in 2010. White had another big game in the playoffs, this time against Rockingham Nov. 11. He registered eight tackles and recovered two fumbles, pushing his team-leading total to three.
"I try to be aggressive and smart," said White. "You have to know your opponent. I try to be a leader on and off the field. Main thing is being physical and aggressive."
White developed his aggressive behavior as a linebacker during his freshman year with the junior varsity team and part of his first season on the varsity as a sophomore. As a 10th-grader, White was a key backup and a regular on special teams.
He got his first taste of the defensive line in 2009. One of his favorite memories from that season was Concord defeating Kannapolis in the annual Bell Game.