Blue Springs junior Isaac Harkness, who is one of the leading contenders to take over the quarterback spot his brother Dom played in 2019, couldn’t hide his excitement.
Harkness had just left a team meeting and a brief one-on-one conversation with new head football coach David White, and he was ready to take the field.
“I don’t know how to explain this, but I feel like we really made a connection today,” Harkness said. “I’m so amped – all the guys are so excited – you could just tell that everyone wants to go out and play football right now.
“Coach White has a plan and a passion for the game, just like Coach (Kelly) Donohoe. He said everything you want to hear from a new coach and he’s ready to go, and so are we.”
White visited the high school Tuesday and met with his players, his coaching staff and members of the administration while his wife Brooke and children Breckston and twins Rumor and Sutton made friends with students and staff members.
“People ask me about being at Ridgeland for just one year and coming here,” said White, who most recently coached at Ridgeland High School in Ridgeland, Mississippi, “and I tell them we did some good things at Ridgeland and we’re going to find a great coach to keep things going with the football program.
“But when I heard about the opening in Blue Springs, I just had to apply. It’s a great program, a great school and it’s in a great community. This is where we want to lay down our roots and raise our family.”
When White was an assistant at the University of Oklahoma, working five years with coach Bob Stoops, he recruited former Wildcats offensive lineman Donald Stephenson, who went on to play with the Sooners and with the Kansas City Chiefs.
“We came up here and recruited Donald and it’s just so impressive to see a program like this one,” White said. “Coach Donohoe has created a real legacy here and we are going to do our best to keep it going.”
Donohoe, who announced his retirement from Blue Springs High School, will be the new head coach at rival Rockhurst in the fall.
“Oh, I know about Coach Donohoe going to Rockhurst,” White said. “Everyone has told me about that. Let’s see, Week 9, right?”
He was referring to the spot on the schedule when Donohoe will bring his Hawklets to Blue Springs to play White’s Wildcats.
Donohoe won 191 games during his 20 years at Blue Springs along with four state championships.
“I know I’ve got a real challenge in becoming the new football coach here,” White said. “And it’s a challenge I want to embrace. I met my coaches today and I hope that every one of them will stay on board.
“I looked at their backgrounds and they’ve all been here four to 14 years – that’s stability. Coach Donohoe was here 20 years. And I want everyone to Before coaching at Ridgeland this past year, White served the previous two seasons as the running backs coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Nevada.
White gained national attention when he won three conference championships from 2003-06 at Las Vegas-area power Bishop Gorman High School.
From 2007-10, White coached at Oklahoma. He started with the Sooners as a graduate assistant and finished as the program’s recruiting coordinator. During the four years he was with the Sooners, White coached the offensive line, tight ends and special teams and coached in two Big 12 Championship games and the 2009 BCS national championship game.
White has been a head coach at the high school level, an assistant coach at the college level, a director of player development, he has worked on the recruiting side and has traveled the country as a motivational speaker.
He served as the director of player development at the Army All-American Bowl and as the director of the All-American Bowl.
Blue Springs will be White’s fourth stop as a high school head coach. During his four-year stay as head coach at Bishop Gorman, his teams were a combined 30-12 and won three conference championships.
“His resume kind of jumped out at you when you saw it,” said Alan Hull, the present assistant activities director who will take over as the head activities director with White serving as his assistant after Donohoe leaves at the end of the school year.
“He seems very thorough and thoughtful and smart, really smart,” Hull added. “I’ve enjoyed meeting him today and look forward to working with him once he gets in town.”